Nowadays I really try to be nice but some days it’s easier than others. A couple of years ago literally everything annoyed me. If things didn’t happen fast enough or people didn’t understand me I would react really sarcastic and annoyed, but these days I react more “Zen”. One of my closest friends would have been proud of me.
That friend and I became friends when I lived in Brabant, a province in the south of The Netherlands. She was a typical woman from Brabant, with the typical soft accent and everything, and of course celebrated Carnaval. Well, I never developed that accent but after almost 20 years (and moving 3 times; Hong Kong, Dubai and back to The Hague) she convinced me to celebrate Carnaval with her.
I went to her for Carnaval weekend, we got dressed up and were ready to party but just before we left, she said (and there it is!): “Cin, please be nice”. Of course, I replied that I’m always nice. “No Cin” she said with a big sigh, “Just be nice!” and so I promised her I would 😊
At that time, I still smoked and halfway the evening I needed a cigarette. I went outside and sat on a little wall enjoying the clean air without the foul smell of beer, smoking my cigarette in peace. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this guy came to sit right next to me. He totally checked me out while I was smoking my cigarette and then he saw the tattoo on my wrist. That tattoo is a memory of my first Muay Thai Training camp experience in Thailand: 2 boxing gloves with “Koh Phangan” written in Thai underneath it. He asked me about the tattoo and if I had it done there. “Of course,” I said, “they did it the traditional way with the bamboo stick” (of course I had it done here in my favorite tattoo shop with nice clean needles). He admired the tattoo and wanted to continue our conversation. Meanwhile I saw a tattoo of 3 Chinese characters in his neck, so I asked him:
“Oh gosh, your tattoo hey, clearly it’s Chinese but why did you get that done? I’ve lived in China and can ready Chinese. What do you think it says? Or what do you think it should have said?”
The guy answered: “Hope, love and faith”.
“Oh really?” I said, “Did you translate it with Google translate or something? Now it says ‘1 portion of Sweet and Sour Chicken’”.
The guy turned bright red and started to stutter: “Really? No, really? Are you kidding me? No, it can’t be?”
“Yeah well, I’m sorry. It’s just because I can read Chinese. Has no one ever told you this before? Did you have someone check your tattoo before you had it done?”, by now I was really laughing.
The guy started to look embarrassed and gave me one sad look before he left. Btw, I can’t read Chinese at all 😉
I finished my cigarette and went back inside. I told my friend the whole story, almost peeing in my pants from laughing.
My friend looked at me, gave this big sigh and said: ”Cin, why can’t you be nice for a change?”. Oooooh, right…I forgot!
Unfortunately, my friend has passed away, I’ve had a burn-out and a depression and all that really makes you think about life and stuff. I wanted to be a better and nicer person and I came to realize that everyone has something on them resembling a Cross (or in some cases, sweet & sour chicken 😊). Also, at my job at the Chiropractic clinic I see and hear so much, and it’s easy to become more empathic. I’m good at that and I like myself like that, being nice and friendly.
However, sometimes my ability for empathy disappears. Like last week, when a young man almost spat on my foot. Initially he said he was sorry. I was a bit grossed out, so I told him that next time he needed to check where he spits because it’s really disgusting. Then his friends came. I already crossed the street and was almost home when I heard: “Shut up, you f****** bitch!”.
“Why did you call me a f****** bitch? I’m not calling you a f****** Moroccan, am I?” I said. His friends started laughing so the guy yelled at me if he had to come to punch me in the face.
Right, you know that little switch in your head? The switch that, if you press on it, makes you see red and become totally oblivious of the consequences? Well, this guy flicked that switch.
I turned towards him, first I sighed deeply and then I threw my arms up, moved my head a bit forwards as in the “What do you want” position and yelled back: “COME ON!!!”. Of course, nothing happened, the guy jumped in the car with his friends and drove off. I’m still not sure if I’m disappointed because nothing happened, or disappointed because I lost my temper. That’s something to think about during the Camino.
The Camino is going to be really special to me. It doesn’t matter if I can or can’t walk the whole trail, it’s still going to be an exploration to my true self. The whole trail will be about me, myself and I (and my mom). It’s about my suffering (after all, I have to sleep in a sleeping bag), my impressions, my thoughts, my feelings and making memories. Once I’m at the church in Santiago de Compostela, I’ll light up a candle for my friend, my mom and myself. After that, it’s time to open up a new chapter in my life. Hopefully it’s going to be a chapter in which I stay nice because I like myself that way a lot better…
Untill next week 🙂