Children cry when they realize they are different from others.
It happens very young, even at 2 or three years old. One notices his or her physical traits are different from others. Later one realizes difference in personality and even in psychological traits.
Some define these differences as weaknesses.
One man has a short nose and the other has a long nose. The irony is that they both envy each other. The man with the long nose wants a short nose and the man with a short nose wants a long nose. Life is filled with these weaknesses we call frailties.
On a physical level we see people like Nick Vujicic swim and play golf even though he does not have any arms or legs. He lives in a big house on the beach in California and has a beautiful wife and four kids. We think he is lucky. But there is a lot more to it. He found strength in his weakness.
Most people don’t want to even think about their weaknesses. But without coming to terms with our weaknesses we can never meet our full potential.
If you asked me when I was 15 years old to write down everything I don’t like about myself I would tell you to go F*#% yourself.
But I bet the list would look something like this:
- I don’t like my big nose.
- I don’t like being average height.
- I don’t like getting ticked off so easily.
- I don’t like being antisocial.
- I don’t like having to take care of my baby brothers.
- I don’t like living in a noisy crazy house.
These were the things I didn’t like about my set up. (Notice I said "set up" not "setback")
They were my frailties.
Someone could punch me in the nose easily and give me a broken nose. It happened in 6th grade in the alley when a fist blew right across my nose.
I never really liked playing basketball as a child. I was average height and had to hold my hands in the air so much my arms got tired.
My character was also frail. I wanted to be somebody people liked and I wanted to say good things but I either said nothing or said something sarcastic or exploded by hitting something.
I spent my afternoons watching cartoons and Sesame Street with my three old brother instead of watching MTV and pretending to do my homework. During the week all kinds of kids joined my mom’s home daycare and I was her assistant. On the weekends I would have to make up games for my little brothers to play. At night I told them stories or read books to put them to sleep because my parents were exhausted.
I envied other kids my age who had only one or two siblings and I dreamed of having a “normal life”.
Each weakness became my strength
I had no idea at the time but each of my weaknesses became my strength thirty years later. As silly as it sounds my big nose is one of the things keeping my employed today. For some reason Korean people cannot resist a big nose. Even when I wear a mask they still look in wonder at the foreigner. This gives me at least 20 seconds of attention. Whenever I speak I have an audience for at least enough time to “get in the door”.
Being average height also helped a lot in Korea. Most of the people I met twenty years ago in Korea were shorter than me. If I was any taller, then they would have to look up to me to speak to me. Being an average height helped me to meet people at eye level. More importantly in elementary school children feel free to come up to me and tell me anything.
This gets pretty funny when a kid comes up to me and says,
“My mom is looking for a boyfriend.”
The fact is the kids aren’t afraid of me and can say whatever they want. The even cooler thing is they are using the English I taught them to do it. If I was ten centimeters taller they would have a more difficult time to come up to me and say whatever was on their mind.
Being antisocial doesn’t mean I have no friend. It just means that I didn’t follow social norms. I had just graduated from college with a science degree. I had a year’s work experience in a genetics lab and was ready to go to medical school but I wasn’t going. I was ready to try something completely different and it turns out that fit me real well. I wouldn’t have known that if I had not been at least a little anti-social.
As for the family I am very glad to be born and raised in a big family of many children and even a home day care center in our house. I learned to use puppets, tell stories and share imaginations with little children. Over time I became good at it.
For the past twenty years I thought I was an English teacher but looking back at my life I see that I am a lot more. I am a big brother and a father and an entertainer. For some of these kids I am a celebrity. When a third grader saw me in the hall he asked for my autograph. It seems that many of my frailties have become my strengths.
Another Generation of Frailty
When I look at my own children it is hard to see beyond how lovable they are, but when I look a little deeper down I can see their frailties. One son wanted to be an artist but as time went one he discovered he is color blind.
It is so sad to look at the scenery with him together. He told me one day,
“Dad, I really like that rainbow colored building.”
I was looking right at it and I saw green and grey stripes on an ordinary beige building. I said,
“It does look like a rainbow doesn’t it? But let’s ask your mom and brother.”
They were like,
“Hey, there is only green and grey.”
He know he is color blind. It doesn’t mean he cannot see any colors. He can see bright colors well. He just cannot distinguish colors in dim lighting. So sometimes he imagines the colors are there when they are not. He may still become a great visual artist with the help of computers. I really don’t know how this frailty will become his greatness but I will not be surprised if it does.
My other son is diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD. He calls it 80 HD. Each month he faces the evil doctor Focusim. For a while it has been a setback. When other students have to work at something two or three times he has to work at it twenty or thirty times. He has to look at from seven or eight different angles until he got it. But when he got he applies that technique to other problems. It is a very slow way to learn but he is so excited about learning.
When he learns something he tells everyone and if no one is around he teaches it to his stuffed animals. Today he was lecturing a squirrel about the difference between greater than and greater or equal to. He is a natural comedian and song writer. It is his frailties that made him a wonderful kid.
As time goes all of our frailties will culminate into perfection. Perhaps by that time we won’t be much more than a pile of dust, but what are we anyway but a clump of dust?
"...my power is made perfect in weakness."
cover photo is a Mineopoly original
I still don't see how any group could call themselves "Kansas", but here again is another example of how frailty is turned into great music.