Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – Susan’s Newsletter October 2015

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Susan's Thursday Morning Note October 29, 2015
Knowing yourself, trusting yourself, encouraging yourself, handling criticism.

Good morning!!  Absolute darkness and stillness until I look up and focus my eyes into the darkness.  Bright stars beside the full bright moon giving us their beauty and encouraging us to awaken.  Guiding our minds to start the day with the perspective of the universe.  How small we are, yet how significant we are to our Creator.  Maybe He is holding the moon and stars as his lantern; His personal lights to look down on us and help guide our eyes to look to the heavens this early.  Giving light to our angels as they look in each of our windows to show us they are here to help us with this day.  They bring the light of the moon and stars in their eyes to help us with anything that enters our world today.  My angel is very quiet today.  Entering my scene with bright eyes letting me know that as the winds of time go too quickly she will show me life is also slow, beautiful, detailed, full of gifts.  Regardless of if I have the time to mentally look she is there holding my gift.  My gift of life.  My beautiful gift given from the one who holds the lantern in the heavens.

I reread parts of a book whose words have been in my mind since originally reading in 2010.  Following are excerpts from my Thursday morning writing over five years ago.  The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.  This book enters the minds of mothers and daughters of Chinese immigrants.  The mothers being immigrants, the daughters raised in America.  The chapters interchange between the mind of the mothers, then the mind of the daughters.  What is so intriguing is what follows in our minds after reading this type of book.  How little we know our mothers and how little they know us.  How much we would like to know as adults when it is too late to ask.  What has made each of us who we are.  How many misunderstandings take place in our minds.  How much we desire to be understood by each other, often without the possibility of understanding because of generational and cultural differences that can’t be passed on for various reasons.

The main line that has replayed in my mind the last few weeks takes place in a scene of a mother/daughter after a large family gathering as they do their dishes; small talk since they have so many divisions between them and don’t know each other very well.  The mother had heard her daughter criticized publicly at the table.  Criticized for a decision she had made.  A cruel critique of her character.  The mother didn’t make a comment at the table, but subtly at the kitchen sink said to her daughter, “Don’t let her words follow you.”  How hard that advice is to follow…criticism that is harmful.  Criticism of our own person by another.  Criticism of who we are.  Here are quotes that follow the same train of thought….trying to not let the criticisms that do not help us drop behind because of our own self-respect and dignity.  Because of having our own thought-out goals.  Knowing who we are, where we have come from, and where we want to be in 1, 5, 15, 30 years from now.  Regardless of outside judgments.

Those that respect themselves are safe from others;
They wear a coat of mail that none can pierce.
                                Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed.  A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me.  It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down.  Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves.  All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows my life is mostly a struggle for survival; not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.  Henri J.M. Nouwen

Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.  Mohandas Gandhi

We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.  Virginia Satir

That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.  William J.H. Boetcker

There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms – a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual.  Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.  Rumer Godden

Resolve to be thyself; and know that those who find themselves, lose their misery.  Matthew Arnold

There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.  Aldous Huxley

Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.  Miguel de Cervantes

Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value.  Albert Einstein

Rather than fitting one’s life into the demands of external conformity, rather than living one’s life as an imitation of the life of another, one should look to find the authentic self within.  One should labor to develop one’s own unique style in crafting one’s soul.  An individual who denies his or her own individuality articulates life with a voice other than that which is uniquely his own or her own.  One who suppresses one’s own self is in danger of missing the point of one’s own existence, of surrendering what being human means.  Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin

Thank you for letting me again enter your world.  Your song.  Helping us all keep the compositions playing.  Minor sections in our songs.  Beautiful sections in our songs.  All part of the original script of our composer.  our composer holding His lantern in the heavens for us to see by.  Have a great week.  We’re sorting your used books!  Thank you so much for bring us your books, for your business, your notes, your support of our store.  To be surrounded by a mess of books…can’t think of too many better scenes (grin).  Let’s enter our day, even if our quiet is only inward, pursuing an inner peace of mind and solidified goals for what we would like to do today.  Look children in the eyes, look others in the eyes, show kindness.  If needing personally refreshed, be kind to ourselves.  Buy an extra coke for ourselves.  Get a cookie and enjoy it alone.  If needing to cry, take a long shower and get it out.  If needing to laugh call a friend that you immediately connect with and laugh over something insignificant.  If needing to see a mess, stop by the store.  You’ll immediately feel like your life is organized! 

Our epitaph tonight….what will we write on our stone of moments today that we’ll never get back?  Drop to our knees in prayer.  Look to the skies.  God knows.  He knows us so deeply.  Regardless of anyone or anything else in our lives, what peace in that knowledge.  Thank you for letting me in your world again this Thursday.  Let’s try to notice one little beautiful gift from God as we enter this day.  The time goes so quickly….save a moment that years from now you will look upon as you look through scenes in your mind.  Susan


Latin for this week:
nosce te ipsum – know thyself
accipio – to consider oneself indebted, receive, learn, take
insto – to pursue eagerly, devote oneself to

Works Cited:
Tan, Amy.  The Joy Luck Club.  2006.  New York.  Penguin Books.
Tan, Amy.  The Kitchen God's Wife.  2006.  New York.  Penguin Books.