Day 19 — under the cloud, there is always a silver lining


I am a bit cliché, I know.

On the balance scale of being in between optimistic and pessimistic, I have the tendency to fall into the latter. I am getting better at being optimistic but my deep nature has dictated and propelled me towards pessimism. I think at the very least, I got this trait from my father, whose indecisive nature had always held back the family on most of major decision. He never saw the silver lining under the cloud whenever the family was at a life’s crossroad. Mom, on the other hand, was and still is fearless. And fortunately I picked up a bit of it from her.

For instance, back in the early 90s my mother had an interest in opening a small phở shop after saving some good amount of money as seed for the venture. But somehow, as a risk-averse person, dad was strongly against it for no reason. He just outright disapproved and dismissed mom’s intent without giving her the time to discuss the possibilities. Even if he did not want to have this business venture, at least gave mom some sort of explanation or rationale, allaying that his fear of business failure or that us children will have a hard time when mom is always busy taking care of business. But he decided not to give mom the time and space to discuss and talk it out. They did not talk to each other for weeks after that, and then during the entire time he was mostly living in his drunken stupor.

Now as I am in restropect, I think with dad being an orphan was very hard for him. Growing up with no parents and guidance left him wandered into his own device. Even his close blood relatives rejected him because he was their burden, and living in the war time had compounded the fact that he had no one to fall back on if he failed. And hence, the fear of doing something new or having new challenges scared him. Remaining in the state of status quo — the ways things are now, complacency — is safer than the unknown.

I wrote this not to blame by dad for lending me part of his unfortunate trait, but to remind me, as a parent, that I have to teach my children about optimism because nurture plays a bigger part in building personal characters. I learn to be better at seeing the silver lining from my mom, of course, but more so it is also from O, who has always been optimistic in the 11 years I have known him — always seeing the glass half full and not willing to settle for less. His attitude is always positive, even at the lowest and most depressing time of his life, which was right after the 9/11 incident that he was laid off from working for a major bank in Boston. He was jobless and homeless. At that time he leaned on this one lady, whom we considered as O’s stand-in mom, who is also a very optimistic person. She was the one who taught O about optimism, to see life at a better light instead of sulking it in darkness.

Throughout the years we have been together, with the ebbs and flows of life, we have made mistakes, we have ridden high with success in our careers, we fought and we disagreed. And for all the decisions we have made together — getting married in spite of objection from our families, having children even when I had some medical issues, moving to Minnesota, O working in Africa and his return — we did it together in optimism. We always joked that being two refugees coming to America, and merging lives the way we do, we have nothing to lose. If we fall, and even when we hesitate just for a moment, we have nothing to lose.

And the prompt of this post…

It has been raining heavily today, and we were out driving the boys to the mall when O told me to look at the sky and see the sun. I looked, but the sun was no where to be seen, only the dark grey cluster of rain cloud gathered ominously over our heads. O laughed, and told me to look for a silver lining. Then we started discussing the next phase of our future together. He told me to trust him, and be optimistic.

And we want to teach our children that even on a rainy day, when we cannot go to the park and ride the bike, we can still go to the mall and have fun. That was our silver lining of the day.

— Snapshots of our lives:

We have had 22 inches of rain thus far, not a record high, but pretty damn close to it.


We spent two hours at the Mall of America (major tourist attraction of this state!) for the kids to have some rides. I took the kids on two rides and O did the latter two. Due to the rain, the Mall was packed with families and young kids.

Peanut was overly excited to see Dora, but was quite reserved when he got close to her. He cannot roll his tongue for the “R” sound, so he called “Dola” instead.





I don’t know the name of this flower but there were a lot of them blooming at this tree inside the Mall. While waiting for O and the boys riding the Diego Explorer Bus, I was struck by a light swift of a sweet fragrance. It reminded me of my childhood, so I followed and trace it to the tree. I picked this one up from the ground and kept it in my wallet.



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