July 1, 2010

Growing wiser with each year…

Posted in Between Us column, Diversity, Relationships at 11:53 pm by dinaheng

I never learned how to ride a bicycle when I was a kid. My mom was always afraid that I’d ride out into the street and get hit by a car, so I never made it past a tricycle in the backyard.

While visiting my parents’ house this week, I noticed that my teenage nephew had left his  bicycle on the back patio. Out of curiosity, I decided I’d get on it and see if I could teach myself how to ride.

Not realizing how heavy the bike was, I swung a leg over the seat, only to have the thing tip over, and knock me to the pavement. Let’s just say my right side is now black and blue, and my arm is covered in antibiotic ointment.

Goes to show you can always go home again… you just can’t make up for things you didn’t do in the past, at least not without a few bumps and scrapes. The important thing about growing older is gaining not only in wisdom and a waistline, but in the courage to try new things.

This July 4th, our nation will be 234 years old. As a whole, we’ve definitely gained in our waistlines, but have we grown in wisdom?

The largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is forcing us to look at our energy needs, but will we end up pointing fingers and arguing solutions to death before the mess is cleaned up? We’ve passed healthcare reform, but how will we deal with the continued pressure and tactics of special interest groups?

It’s ironic that our Founding Fathers, who must have been extraordinary politicians in their day, have evolved into career politicians who often lack the courage of their convictions.

When I think about wise, courageous Americans, I think about people like my mother, who immigrated to the United States with the hopes, fears and dreams of a generation that lived through times of war and famine.

My mom, who didn’t want me riding out into the street, has always been fearless when it comes to trying new cuisines. Born in China, she called spaghetti her first taste of American food. Today, she loves hamburgers with everything on them, and whenever we go to a new restaurant, she’ll nibble from everyone’s plate to taste whatever looks appealing.

My sister Linda tried making Brazilian yuca bread yesterday, using a recipe that substituted tapioca starch for yucca flour. My mom recognized the tapioca starch as something used in Chinese pastries, so when the bread came out of the oven, she had to try it.

“Not bad,” she said, “but the Chinese version is better.”

I love it that we are a nation of people who come from everywhere, and still value the traditions and customs of wherever we came from… no matter how many generations ago we arrived.

My family, which includes Chinese, Korean, and Caucasians (depending on who each sister married), will be celebrating the Fourth with barbecued ribs and a spread that’s both traditionally American and Asian.

It’s great fun to watch the kids play while lunch is being prepared, knowing that they will one day build their own traditions based on what we’re doing today.

No doubt, enjoying the feast will require a little extra exercise next week. I’ve learned one thing… if I get on a bike, it will be a stationary one.

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