Chinese New Year: A Time to Think of Family
It’s the eve of Chinese New Year and several of my friends will be visiting their families tonight for what’s known as ‘reunion dinner’. Although my paternal grandfather was of Chinese heritage, my family have never done anything special to celebrate the occasion. Nevertheless, it’s got me reflecting on family—the support, the challenges, and the responsibilities that come with being part of one.
It’s no secret I’ve been blessed with an amazing family full of kind and generous people. But this is not to say we’ve been without our tough times. Over the years we’ve all tested the limits of each other’s patience in different ways—which also means we’ve been able to practise forgiveness, letting go, and moving forward without holding grudges.
I have one aunt in particular who gives me many opportunities to practise those things. She has badmouthed me to other relatives many times, seemingly for no reason. As a teenager I was a bit chubby and whenever she phoned my mum, instead of asking ‘How is Narissa?’ she would say ‘So how fat is Narissa now?’
Admittedly, it wasn’t great for my self-esteem at the time, but it did teach me to develop inner stability. My own mother treated it as unpleasant, but ultimately no big deal. And she expected me to adopt a similar attitude. If we didn’t invest any emotion in those unkind words, they lost their power.
If that aunt’s words lose their power to affect my emotional state, then there is also no grudge for me to carry. I can simply wish her well and keep moving forward with my life.
I have to admit, sometimes I forget this and get annoyed—I’m only human, after all. But I keep reminding myself to let go of my frustration, because the person it will hinder the most is myself. Bitterness is a heavy load to carry.
Although I won’t be going to reunion dinner with that aunt tonight, I will see her at a family wedding next month and it will be a new opportunity to deepen my inner stability, no matter what she might say about me. She might also surprise me and be genuinely happy to see me. After all, she’s not a bad person. She’s just a flawed human being trying to find happiness, much like me.
We’re in this family together, bringing each other many opportunities to evolve and to develop more positive inner qualities. I’m not just talking about her and I, although it’s certainly true. However, I view my friends as another level of family, along with my local and online community. And in a global sense, aren’t we all a bit like a family, sharing a fragment of time together on this piece of rock flying through space? We love and we fight and hopefully we’re using those experiences to learn from each other and evolve as individuals.
So to all my family near and far, I wish you a Happy Chinese New Year. May the year ahead bring you much happiness and good fortune. And may you turn all your challenges into opportunities for your greatest evolution.
With love, Narissa
Narissa Doumani, author of A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator
live mindfully ~ love openly
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