Sunday, August 10, 2014

When I'm Dead....

Ghost Month started yesterday in Taiwan. Yes, that's a real thing, for those of you who don't know. From my understanding, it's an entire month dedicated to honoring ancestors, and not pissing them off when they come visit because you give them awesome offerings of fake money, foods, snacks, and drinks. In some cases, you even give houses. By the way, this is all in the form of burning things. There are also some other customary things to not do, like don't go swimming, whistle, buy cars, move house, going out after dark, and giving ghosts your address. 

 The more you know...

I'm not a religious person. I have my own beliefs of how my life should be lived, but I don't follow any pre-formed religion. I'm also not a fan of wasting, pollution, nor depleting the ozone. Also, I normally don't give out my address to strangers, but that's just a coincidence, I guess. But either way, you can probably guess that I'm not a big fan of the on-goings of Ghost Month in Taiwan. That, and I have asthma. 

The thing is, I do like to participate in ceremonious events once in a while, though, just for the fun of it. For example, I don't celebrate Easter, but I like to do Lent when I can remember when it starts. I don't celebrate the Mid-Summer Festival, but I do like to compete in the Dragonboat race when I can. 

So for Ghost Month, I got to thinking....if I was a ghost, how would I want my ancestors to make me happy? Giving me food I can't eat, money I can't spend, and fucking up the air quality would definitely make me the opposite of appeased. I do, however, like random acts of kindness and the overall being nice to people. I think the world is getting more and more populated with stressed out people, and asshole-ish behavior is becoming more and more common. So, for the duration of this year's Ghost Month (and I'm actually hoping that it becomes a habit, because it makes me happy as well), I'm going to purposely be kind to at least one random being every day. I started yesterday with saving the life of a dragonfly whose leg was caught in the escalator. Hey, it's a start!

Escalators = death traps. Use the stairs!

Today, as I was on my way of scavenging for my first meal of the day at 3pm (you can imagine the hanger starting to set in by then), I encountered two overly-eager women standing in my line of vision for some New Zealand Natural ice cream. 

(I just get easily irritated and antisocial when I get hangry, actually)

Once they realized that someone else wanted to see the flavors, they immediately moved to the side and started suggesting how absolutely delicious it was, while they were waiting for their ice cream to be scooped. They then offered me a spoonful of their own ice cream to taste. I politely declined, as the vendor would happily give me a taste anyway, so I saw no need for them to spend a treasured spoonful on a stranger. As I walked away, stating that I need real food before the ice cream, they asked if they could sit for lunch with me. Normally, that sounds like a very weird thing to do, but this wasn't the first time I've had something like this happen in this country. They seemed like nice people, harmless, so I agreed, as long as they realized that I had a schedule to follow (not really, but it gives me an out just in case things go south). 

The entire gathering only lasted a few minutes, but they informed me that they were participating in this event/program/thing where they had to get out of their comfort zones. They were instructed to make conversations with random people they walked up to. They had to get used to rejection, and push their fears aside. After I heard this, I immediately smiled, as I've done similar things (and I still do, just for the experience). I know that the first step was very difficult, and I wanted to encourage them into continuing their quest. So instead of rushing things or been very antisocial like I most likely would have if they weren't doing this exercise, I talked to them, and told them about how I got over my fears, and now laugh at the face of rejection. It just takes more exposure. Basically, practice. Like anything else you want to get good at in this life, you have to work at it. The first step is always difficult. Failure makes things worse. But once you get past those failures and see those as another step towards success, then you start to welcome those failures. It's a number's game. The more failures you get, the more successes you will, too. 

In the end, the women thanked me, hugged me, and took the obligatory selfie with me. Apparently they were extremely happy to end their exercise with their encounter with someone who was willing to give them a "yes." Hey, if they're wanting and willing to get out of their comfort zones and improve themselves, I'll help them however I can. In the end, I help myself, too. It reminds me of where I was, where I am, and how much more I have yet to improve. So thank you to the two women who were brave enough to randomly communicate with me with no other intention than to break out of their comfort zone and make themselves better. 

When I'm dead and a ghost, if my descendants would like to make me happy, don't burn things, waste food, or avoid swimming in the hot summer heat. I'd like for my descendants to make me happy by making other living creatures happy, and using that experience to make themselves better people because of it. 

Thanks in advance ;)

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