Mr. du Preez
Writing on this Mid-Autumn Festival evening, I'm more aware than usual of the importance of being together as a family. The fullness of the moon tonight symbolizes the ideal hope in Chinese culture, that all members of the family will gather at this time to enjoy the fruits of harvest in joy, completeness and love.
I left the celebratory dinner table early tonight, though, with a pain in my belly and a mild ache in my heart. To be sure, there was much love and laughter around the table - more than enough brightness to compensate for the shadows that threatened from the darker side of my mind. And it is really my choice whether to see my moon as being half empty or half full. With a cancer death only one day ago on my wife's side of the family and with my own mother so many thousands of kilometers away, my moon is definitely feeling a little jagged around the edges. The craters are showing.
Tonight, Hung Shing Yeh Beach will be resplendent with rainbow glow-sticks, candle nebulae melting into the sand, paper lanterns recycling tinny unintelligible mandarin children's' ditties, and most importantly, the laughter of children playing as they chase and dodge through and around cheerful constellations of family and friends. All appears well at this mid autumn reverie. Still, I can't possible be entirely alone in my hesitation to enjoy. As the waves ebb and flow, pulling down candle castles, we all are caught up in the highs and lows of this life. Perhaps this is what drives some of us to write. Weaving this happy confusion of laughter and tears into some sort of interesting story helps to make meaning of it all, even if it is somewhat imposed. For even when our lips hang low, we have to pick it all up in the morning and get on with the creativity and affairs of life.
Writing and reading well are great ways to make meaning out of the vagaries of life. A survivor of the holocaust, Viktor Frankl , learned a key to living well from his terrible experiences and wrote, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." It is my sincere hope that I may teach my students well enough that their interest in reading/writing will be truly kindled and that they, too will have at their lifelong disposal, this powerful tool for making sense of it all. For finding their own 'why to live!"