Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Humility and Love

When first we heard the words,
so many years ago,
that our darling baby daughter,
would never really grow,
to know the joys of learning,
to feel the strength of thought,
a little of us died inside,
our hearts and minds
within us cried.

We seek and find a partner,
bear children if we can
asking only that they be -
well, happy, whole and truly free.
To live and love as others do.
Fulfil their duty, see life through,
the trials of babyhood,
the wonder of the years,
but we look at them and study them,
through many bitter tears.

Although our grief is lasting,
we learn a lot from them -
compassion, understanding, humility and then
an overwhelming love,
which comes from our despair,
dispelling all the clouds of gloom,
for they have wondrous air.

When we see their faces light
with a job well done,
and know the splendid effort made,
to have the battle won.
We realise the spirit of all mankind,
is shining from within,
though their bodies may be twisted
and their comprehension thin.

Our hearts grow strong within us,
we try with all our might,
and draw from many friends we make,
who share a similar plight.
The bonds of friendship strengthen
as we help our special kids
and we can laugh and see life truly
and not through shuttered lids.

The help we get along the way,
from teachers, helpers everyday,
is given gladly with generous thought,
we take it and hug it and know our kids are taught
to reach their own potential,
whatever that may be.
And we hope that when we leave them,
their destiny will be,
in the hands of others who will care
to see them through to do and dare.

So I want to tell you mothers
who share this meal tonight
that it's been a priviledge knowing you,
the burden is made light,
when we pull together, share the load,
so thanks, good bye, this is the code,
for a better understanding of all it means to be,
the parents of a special child, who holds the golden key.

- a parting letter from my mother, Stephenie Fischer, about her daughter, my sister Caroline, a special needs child, as she graduated special school in 1991.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Slowly, slowly said the Sloth

I looked around and everyone was hurried,
too busy to stop
to think
to talk
it was always later
when I get a chance

..and that was me, too
until I jumped off
the merry-go-round
and paused.

it was as though everyone else was fast forward
and I
at once in the moment, and enjoying it
kissing my daughter's toes
chatting to my son about his day
stroking my husband's arm
because I paused
to enjoy this life I have,
to appreciate the here and now.

because, as always, the future is uncertain,
but today is pretty great.

Bright Eyes August, 2007

My beautiful bright little girl
Your eyes shining with light
The gift of sight
Following my face as I smile
From left to right

Your feet kicking with glee
Fingers grasping at all that is in front of you
Mouth curling up at the corners as you reach out
And step by step, learn how to fend for yourself
In this wonderful, crazy world

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hong Kong Escalation

I am well aware that I am not the first, nor the last ‘Gweilo’ (Cantonese slang for ‘white ghost”, a term often used to describe Western ex-pats) to attempt to comment on life as a foreigner in the dynamic city of Hong Kong. This city is famous for its ex-pats and there are many of us. Though, I’m not interested in commenting on categorising ex-pats, it has been done to death. I am selfishly interested in how I have changed, emotionally, living in this city.

Today, as I ride up the escalator at Immigration Tower, to renew my Hong Kong identification card, along with literally hundreds of other people, of all ethnicities, I am overwhelmed by a sense of the familiar. The sort of feeling I would have had in my hometown of Sydney, running errands at the local shops. Now this might not seem so exciting to you, but to me, it is simply quite profound.

This exact trip, the never ending escalator ride (the only way to get to the eight floor), the deafening, almost birdlike sounds of hundreds of people simultaneously chattering away in different languages (Filipino, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin to name a few), the endless queues, the taking of a ‘number’, the long waiting, the taking of another ‘number’ the interviews, the protocol, the fingerprinting, was, to say the least, a little intimidating. I was simply another person, where I was from didn’t really matter, desperate to obtain my working Visa, so I could pursue my career and possibly get a taste for all the opportunities that might be in my future.

This foreign country, Hong Kong, once shrouded in mystique and overwhelming to the senses, was now my surrogate home. Who would have thought that I, a young Australian woman, with no local language skills and absolutely no contacts, could break through the barriers simply by unerring determination and focus? It took hundreds of emails, cold calls and interviews to do it, but I did. I made my way through the minefield and found a golden opportunity with an American media firm (my University degree is in Media and my work experience in advertising).

The fact is that I am not writing this to praise myself, (though I do use my experience as an example to people that if you really, really want something, it is yours for the taking, just be patient and don’t give up). Rather, I am really commenting on how amazing it is, to have experienced a country where you can break down barriers and people are open to foreigners, so long as you truly have something to offer. You really can be from anywhere and it doesn’t matter. How you treat people and the experience you bring, all counts far more that this money-driven, capitalist town might have you believe.

Of course, I’m not saying things are perfect, or that I haven’t had my moments (sometimes daily), where pollution, lack of grass, customer service, stinky, unrefrigerated street meat mongers and trivial annoyances don’t get me down, but I have learnt to hold my tongue for the most part.

Let’s face it, Hong Kong has been good to me and who am I to complain by making broad strokes comparisons to the hometown that I haven’t lived in seven years. I have had an amazing working life here, traveling all around Asia. Working with so many different nationalities, my old Sydney friends would see my office “team” photographs and think I worked at the UN.

The days of being intimidated by Hong Kong have subsided, replaced by a familiar fondness. I will be forever in awe of the buildings and the sheer density of the population, but I have realized what has really happened, is that I have grown up and matured in this place. I have been pregnant and given birth to both my kids here. In an interesting twist, the delivery of my children was at a hospital on The Peak, the very first touristy spot I visited on my first trip here. The place my then boyfriend, now husband, took me to, to “sell” me on the idea of moving to Hong Kong.

I guess I was sold then and I’m sold now. Hong Kong will always be a part of me, and I am thankful for all the perspective it has given me. When the time comes to leave, it will be bittersweet. May the journey continue.

Sarah Fischer Letts
Hong Kong
May 2008

It all started with an upside down yellow bucket

A yellow garbage bin, to be more precise, but it was really just a big yellow bucket, that I used to feed my horse, Boris. I used to turn it upside down to sit on it and talk to him...and to get out my notepad....and write. I must have been about twelve or thirteen years old. I would sit there, in the paddock and he would be chomping on his food listening to me talk. Or just be silent, with me, as I wrote.

The dramas and angst of pre-teen, then teen life, carefully captured in multiple notebooks and diaries, my world exposed as I explored it and tried to work it all out. Twenty five years later and I'm still writing, it's my way of thinking, of processing, and it's a refuge in my life that I have always loved.

The beauty and power of the written word.

Just cathartic and meditative and a big part of who I am. I'll always be that little girl, with hopes, dreams, tears and happiness. Contemplating the world, from my special 'throne' my trusty yellow bucket.