We recently took a trip to Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It was quite an exciting trip mainly because I had the chance to see the Great Wall, Hong Kong skyline with fireworks, nocturnal animals in a Singapore jungle, and many different cultures. I don?t think many kids in their junior year of high school can say that they have seen all of those places. However, I also still had plenty of time to sit and think and there were a few things that I came to realization with during this trip. While reading this, I?d like you to again know that clich?s are overused for a reason. They apply to just about everyone in every circumstance. They just don?t gain meaning until we experience them for ourselves.
It?s funny how most people in the world are lucky enough to say that they have a family. I?m sure many of you are wondering what I mean by this or think I mean something, most likely, completely different because of the title. I just find it amusing how families are technically everywhere. People with blood relation exist with just about every person on this earth and are thus deemed to be family. I?ve now come to terms with what a family really is and I?ve found that it means quite a bit more than technicalities could cover.
The first realization that I came to was how lucky some of us are to have a true family who cares. First off, I would like to extend the term ?family? to include friends who care deeply and are, in some respects, an extended family of sorts. When we had returned from our trip, we received a large amount of phone calls and e-mails wishing us well on our return to the States. It was very nice to realize how many people cared enough to take the time out of their day to wish us well as we got used to home once again. This point is furthered by the stories of my older brother and sister who weren?t able to come with us because of new jobs and tests for entrance into medical school. On this, I must give you a little insight on my family. My dad?s side of the family is extremely close and usually, we find ourselves together at parties very often. Lately, however, it seems to me that our family doesn?t get together as often or at least, not nearly as much as before. I think part of this can be blamed on everyone simply ?growing up.? I don?t like this change at all but I?ve learned to accept it if I must. However, I can honestly say that my brother and sister had, in no way, felt this same feeling during our time away. They told me stories of how they were invited over to just about every uncle and aunt?s house in the family and were fed delicious meals. They told me how they had a lot of fun simply hanging out with the family and enjoying each other?s company. Frankly, I was jealous but I know that I would have been invited as well if I had been in the continent at the time. I was simply in awe that so many people could care so much. It went beyond blood relation or simple friendly connections. Whether because of a phone call or e-mail, a dinner or short visit, it was times like those that made me love my family and friends enormously. I think their caring is simply beyond compare and I appreciate it deeply. I don?t know what I would do without them.
The second thing is that no one should take their family for granted. If someone is half as lucky as I am to have a family who cares wholeheartedly for their happiness, then they must also know that their family might not always be there. In Asia, we found ourselves talking with a fair amount of taxi drivers on our trips within each city. The main story that we heard over and over again was of their children who were at home. One taxi driver told us that she works hard to provide a good education for her kids, but because of her job, she only sees them on Sundays, if she?s lucky. Those kids don?t have a large family like mine. They can?t run over to an aunt?s house if they forget their house key inside their house. They can?t come home from school on their birthday and listen to a bunch of messages that were left during the course of the day to wish them well. It?s a shame that I didn?t recognize this when I was younger. If I had known then- what I know now, I would have even more stories from someone?s living room about something completely random and only important to me and my family. It?s the small things in life that really make all the difference. It?s the small things that we remember most.
The third and final thing that I came to a rationalization about was how hard it is to leave the ones you love. Once you truly appreciate those around you, it?s almost impossible to ever want to leave. In some respects, I mean this to be directed towards family and friends but it can even be extended to my dog. I missed my dog dearly and I hadn?t really grasped how much she meant to me until I hadn?t seen her for three weeks. This feeling was almost tripled when applied to the people in my life. I spend most of my time talking to friends or at family gatherings so it seemed as though I could do without some of them if the need arose. I quickly noticed, however, that this simply wasn?t true. After roughly two days away, I felt like going home, not because of a boring trip or a bad time but simply because I missed some of the people I cared about the most. With the exception of my family traveling with me, everyone was back-home in Chicago. I was thousands of miles away. This thought just didn?t make me very excited to stay. I don?t know why this took me so long to realize but after all, the only thing I?m certain of is that I can truly say that I?m loved back home. I know now how hard it is to leave. I know that family simply cannot be replaced and the concept should never be treated as though it has no worth.
I don?t think my parents, or relatives in general, realize how much I really do care for them. It seems that I?ve begun to take everyone for granted to such an extent that I?ve lost my ability to see them for what they are. I can be so open with them that they hear almost everything from me, including most of my complaints. It?s amazing how long it took me to figure this out.
?Family? really is where the heart is. They can make a bad day good once again. They can make you feel the happiest you?ve ever been for no reason at all. They bring out the best in all of us and rarely let us down without warrant. ?Families? present us with the opportunity to fly to new heights. It?s simply up to us to make use of their offer.
Author: Atina DSouza- USA