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Fireworks in Tianjin
Dedicated to David
Submitted by Tori
Sometimes we search in so many different directions for happiness, prospecting the "other side" for greener grass, that we return defeated with heads hung and hands thrown in the air, wondering where we got off track. At this moment, if we are fortunate enough, those we love take us by the hand and open our eyes, making us realize that happiness is most often found where the journey begins: in the present moment.
David and I had been married just under a year when we accepted the opportunity to intern with a software company for a semester in China. We left clinging to the assumption that one-month tourist visas could easily be changed to four-month work visas when we reached China. Once in China, however, nothing panned out in the endless search for ways to extend our visas. The more effort put forth, the less anything worked in our favor, and the more our hope dwindled. It soon became clear that our trip would be cut much shorter than originally planned.
Knowing our time in China was limited, I became distracted at work, dreaming up the trip David and I would take for our anniversary when we returned home. Instead of preparing lesson plans, my time was more often spent surfing the waves of exotic, white-sanded websites announcing romantic getaways to Hawaii, faraway from the confusion that was our existence in China. I began to anticipate our trip home so much, in fact, that I forgot to recognize the beauty surrounding me in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
One night in our apartment, David rushed from a nearby window to the bed where I was reading, and said, "Come here quick!"
"What is it?" I asked, imagining nothing in a smog-filled metropolis could be that exciting.
"Just come, you have to see this!" Reluctantly, I left my book and followed him through the kitchen to our balcony that overlooked the city of Tianjin. There, suspended in the air, sprouting as if for our very own, personal enjoyment, was a dazzling fireworks display. Never before had I seen such a stunning array of visual explosion. Not even Times Square on New Year's Eve could compare. I realized then and there that we would never return to this moment, to this opportunity, again.
My heart swelled with a newfound sense of appreciation, gratitude, and love for my companion. With this small gesture, he forced me to look beyond what I viewed as our hopeless situation, and notice the beauty surrounding me in the present moment. Hawaii would be nice; even returning to our beloved, free nation would be nice, but this was China! I promised myself that, from that moment on, I would stop focusing so much on the future, that it would shatter my focus of my present situation, and the beauty therein.
It's a motto I strive to live by to this day.