I don’t need to prove that I am perfect

Piano is something I really like since my childhood, and being not given a chance to learn it made it more precious dream to me. To compensate my childhood dream, I started learning it in my late 30s.

I am advancing to grade 2 within a year , and my piano teacher kept telling that I am talented. However, I kept making mistakes in during public concert, as my hands were quivering so much that I couldn’t control them well on stage.

Digging down the root why I had stage panics, I found the reason is that instead of trying the deliverying the beauty of music to the audience, I focused too much on myself to be perfect and mistakeless.

It’s a habit since my childhood to prove to everyone that I am perfect. Being the second born and a girl in my family (in China), hearing the story from my mom that she almost decided for an abortion once she knew my sex, I always wanted to prove that I am the best for my parents, and everyone else.

Deeply I am unsecured. I wanted my parents and everyone ‘s acceptance and liking me. Since grade one in my primary school, I constantly ranked Top 1 at my class. “Studying machine” was what my classmates called me. I didn’t  play as much as other kids. I only show my parents and teachers what they like to see in me. Thank god this madness of being nothing but Top 1 finally ended after I got my Ph.D. In electrical and computer engineering in Canada. All I can say about my major is that my father chose it, and I am not passionate about it . However, it provided me a ticket to Canada and a good job. 

Now back to my piano performaning, I wanted to be the best student (again!!!) , and this caused me a lot of unnecessary pressure. 

I read this article online and what inspired me the most is the point 5 and 6 below.

I am sharing the tips here with you, and please let me know if you have other suggestions. Thanks!

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7 Reasons to Stop Proving Yourself to Everyone Else

5. Life isn’t a race; you have nothing to prove.
Everyone wants to get to the top of the mountain first and shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” But the truth is, all your happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing, not while you’re sitting at the top. Enjoy the journey by paying attention to each step. Don’t rush through your life and miss it. Forget where everyone else is in relation to you. This isn’t a race. You get there a little at a time, not all at once.
Let go of the foolish need to prove yourself to everyone else, and you’ll free yourself to accomplish what matters most to you. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.
6. The path to all great things passes through failure.
You are an ever-changing work in progress. You don’t have to always be right, you just have to not be too worried about being wrong. Screwing up is part of the process. Looking like a fool sometimes is the only way forward. If you try too hard to impress everyone else with your “perfection,” you will stunt your growth. You will spend all your time looking a certain way, instead of living a certain way.
It’s impossible to live without failing sometimes, unless you live so cautiously that you aren’t really living at all – you’re merely existing. If you’re too afraid of failing in front of others, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful in your own eyes. You have to remember that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail or how messy your journey is, so long as you do not stop taking small steps forward. In the end, those who don’t care that failure is inevitable are the ones that reach their dreams. YOU can be one of them. 

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Yes or No?

To be or not to be, that is the question.

 

After moving to Canada from China, I found that to answer yes or no to a question, that is also the question.

 

I will tell you two of my personal stories, to show you that the custom and logic behind saying yes and no are very unlike or even contrasting from culture to culture.

 

It’s important for us to keep open minded, as we live in Canada, where the world meets.

 

Story #1. J with ribs

It happened when J first met my parents. It’s when we got married, and my parents came to visit us in Canada. They prepared delicious stewed ribs, and invited J over for a dinner.

 

My father speaks a little English, and he showed his hospitality to J during the dinner.

 

When J finished the ribs in his plate, my father asked, “Do you want more ribs?”

“No, thanks.” J replied politely.

My father THEN put one more piece for J.

“Ok, perhaps he didn’t understand me”, thought J and silently he completed the extra piece of rib.

“Do you want more ribs?” My father asked again.

“No, thanks. I am really full”. This time J even rubbed his tammy to show my father that he couldn’t no more.

“More! More!” My father insisted and put two MORE ribs into J’s plate.

 

“What is going on? Why am I keeping getting ribs? ” J was confused and asked me after the dinner.

 

Ahuh! This is the so called  “Pseudo Decline” phenomena. In China, when you are offered with a gift or food, the custom is to refuse several times before accepting it. The giver will continue to insist that you take it. Otherwise it can be seen as greedy if you accept right away. In this case my father took J’s answer as Pseudo Decline by default.

 

Even after 10 years of marriage, J still remembers this lesson learned and checks with me from time to time. “ So…when you said no, was it a Chinese No or a English No?” (LOL)

 

Lesson:  keep open-minded. We need to understand what people want and what people say they want are not always the same things. And it is up to us to figure out.

How? These are my favorite quotes from the book “The little prince” – “Language is the source of misunderstandings. One must look with the heart…”

 

Story #2. Tearoom yes/no dead loop   

Before I start the story telling, I need to explain to you the grammar when you respond a negative interrogative question in Chinese. For instance, when I ask you “Don’t you like the this blog?” in Chinese, it means that I assume that you don’t like my blog, and your answer would be corresponding to my assumption.

 

If {you really don’t like it (my assumption is correct)}

You’d say “YES, I don’t like it”

Else if{you like it (my assumption is wrong)}

You’d say “NO, I like it”

 

While in English you’d answer yes if you like it, or no if you don’t like it.

 

Now let me demonstrate how the difference of two logics could end up in a dead loop.

 

When I was drinking my fancy afternoon tea at a tea room, a conversation between a waitress and a Chinese customer caught my ear.

 

The waitress asked “ Do you want tea?”

“No”, the Chinese customer responded.

Just to confirm, the waitress asked again, “So you don’t want tea?”

The Chinese customer agreed “Yes.”

The waitress was confused. She then asked again, “ Do you want tea?”

“No…”

“So you don’t want tea?”

“Yes…”

 

The loop went on and on for 5 or 6 times, until the waitress figured out that “Yes” means “Yes, you are correct that I don’t want tea”.

 

This story reminds me what Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher said, There are no facts, only interpretations”.

 

Lesson: keep open-minded. We need to understand there are unlike perspectives for the same fact or situation, and respect people with different point of views.

 

Now you’ve heard my J and ribs story and tea room yes/no dead loop story.

 

What do you think? “To answer yes or no to a question, is that a question for you now?”

 

I believe you have also experienced culture differences when you travel or in your everyday life.
My message to you is to keep open-minded. Because when the mind is open, the heart is open.

The Gorgeous Zither

The Gorgeous Zither

By Li Shang-yin (Tang Dynasty)

The Gorgeous zither has fifty strings.

Each string, each fret recalls a youthful year.

Master Zhuang woke from a dream puzzled by a butterfly.

Emporer Wang reposed his amorous heart to the cuckoo.

The moon shines on the sea pearls look like tears.

The sun is warm at Lantian the jade emits mist

This feeling might have become a memory to recall

But even then, it was already suggestive of sorrow.

锦瑟

[]李商隐

锦瑟无端五十弦,一弦一柱思华年。

庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,望帝春心托杜鹃。

沧海月明珠有泪,蓝田日暖玉生烟。

此情可待成追忆,只是当时已惘然

我试着翻译成英文,但当看到杨宪益、戴乃迭夫妇的译文时就决定放弃了。细细琢磨,杨,戴的译文真正做到了“信达雅”。

我尤其喜欢“望帝春心托杜鹃”中的字译为“repose”.因为repose除了寄托,托付,还有安息的意思。和望帝化魂化子规的故事相暗合。有的译本用“entrust”,我认为远远没有repose来的贴切。