My family has never been very musical. It was my biological mother who had a knack for music, and even insisted my sister and I take piano lessons. My sister and I dutifully complied with our share of piano lessons where my sister excelled and had a natural knack of those 88 keys while I was awful because I simply never practiced and was prepared for piano lessons. I often remember my mother singing and plucking away at this Chinese instrument that made vibrating sounds like a tuning fork. She sang in the Church choir. She sang lullabies to me. As for this mysterious instrument, I later learned that it is called a “Guzheng.” She loved that “Guzheng” instrument so much that she volunteered her time to play it at the nursing home.
I was fascinated with this “Guzheng” instrument and the sounds that emanated from it, but, most of all, I was fascinated with how focused and present my mother was when she played it. She loved that instrument. One day when she was out and it was only my older sister and me (my older sister was upstairs) and I was all alone, I sat in front of the beautiful instrument lined with strings that were delicately cradled by what looked like chopstick holders to me. My fingers gently brushed on the strings and a symphony of sounds perked my ears and curiosity. I began to pluck more vigorously trying to mimic my mother. One of the pieces that held one of the strings looked crooked or out of place to me. I was intrigued with what this piece felt like. Without even thinking, I went to touch and then squeezed the piece with my pudgy fingers and that is when I heard a snap. I would like to tell you that the delicate instrument was strong enough to withstand my naughty childish ways, but it did not. Frantic, I rushed to find Elmer’s glue and tried to glue the piece back together, but that just made the instrument even worse and damaged beyond repair. I wish I could tell you what happened after in details, but my memories block it all out. Of course, my mother was livid and furious and no matter how much I apologized, the words fell to deaf ears. I could not undo the damage that I had done. Now when I look back at that incident and many other incidents, I wish I thought before I acted. When have you wished that you had thought more carefully before you acted? When have you wished that you could undo damage that you had done? When have you acted carelessly and it has burnt you and the relationship more than build up?
Years later, my father told me a story that also reminded me of what happened between my mother and me and her precious Guzheng that I pretty much destroyed. In the story, the father made the son go out to hammer in all these nails into a blank and purely white picket fence. The son complained how hard and arduous the work was and then his father ordered his son to unscrew and remove all the nails. This was even more difficult and that son complained even louder and more, and then the son realized that that the final product was a fence with gaping holes. Father said to the son: “You see how difficult it is to undo what you did and the damage that was done as a result with all those holes. This is a lesson to you to be careful what you say and do in life with people you love. It will be so easy for you to get so caught up in your emotions, the situation, and the drama, but it will be hard for you to step back and stop to say what you feel until it may be too late. It is hard to build up relationships, but even harder to rebuild once trust is challenged and even gone. We create many unintended ‘holes’ with people. We never really have clean slates in life. You will always see traces of dust even after and no matter how hard you have tried to erase.”
This story spoke volumes to me. The incident with my mother is always remembered. There are so many times I have screwed up and still screw up with people that I could not unscrew and undo the damage. It will take a long time to build a relationship but it will take one thing that can bring that relationship down. Trying to mend and rebuild a relationship and even yourself yet again and especially when trust is shaken or even broken is probably one of the biggest challenges that we have all experienced. Think carefully before acting and saying forcefully. Our words and actions cannot be undone or taken back and can hurt immensely and even irreversibly. Our words and actions hold great power to keep on building up ourselves and others and our relationships or the complete opposite of damage and even destruction. Who has shaken or broken your trust? Were you able to rebuild again, or not? Are we ever able to have a clean slate of ourselves and others when the slate has been written on over and over again? Can we ever repair what was broken? Perhaps we can, but the repair and the revision will never be the original. It will never be the same again. It will never be a brand new clean slate.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,