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Logo Magdalene

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by Jennie M. Xue

Two things that truly mean a lot to me are grace and being observant. As a person, I keep reminding myself that we all must have “grace” as it gives us the courage and confidence to exist without worrying too much. As a writer and researcher, observing with keen eyes and sharp mind gives a reason to exist.

Combining the two, I believe I have everything needed to survive and thrive. Even when things go awry in materialistic terms and when a big part of my life has just collapsed.

With grace and being observant, we can do small things with big love – to quote  Mother Teresa – face anything that comes our way, stir the calm water, and propel ourselves to places we only dream about. But, what do “grace” and “graceful” mean anyway? And by “observing,” what does it refer to?

Throughout my life, I’ve visited many places and noticed that every place comes with its own culture and subcultures. Some cultures are more “graceful,” others are less. The good thing is we can choose in which culture or subculture to live in. Nothing and nobody else can choose it for us. It’s our prerogative.

By “grace” here, I’m not talking about the Christian concept of it, which refers to God’s quality. “Being graceful” can also come from us, mortal human beings, not necessarily from God or any divine power.

Being “poised” is an exterior demeanor and being “graceful” is the interior demeanor that should come hand-in-hand with it. External qualities should project internal qualities and vice versa. Having both in harmony is key to a fulfilling life, which we all long for.

When what we think, what we feel and what we do are in alignment, we have reached the so-called “true happiness,” Mohandas Gandhi once said.

In short, being “graceful” is a belief about ourselves, our capacity to make a difference, and that we are doing things mindfully with awareness of the cause-and-effect cycles.

Being “graceful” in human terms, in my dictionary, means that we harbor no grudges, are bigger than any unfairness and injustice, and that we completely believe in our capacity to influence the world around us positively. A “graceful” person is both serene and poised on the outside and calm and non-judgmental on the inside.

In a nutshell, “having grace” means having a strong, courageous, and independent existence of self despite the external surroundings. Joy and pain come and go, yet nothing can take away the best of ours. And we are ready to face anything that comes our way with hope, positivity and resourcefulness.

Now, what does “being observant” mean? A writer observes things that most people don’t. For instance, a tiny spot on the carpet sparks my interest. What was it? Was it red wine, tomato ketchup, or blood? If blood, is it circulating blood or non-circulating blood? Human’s or animal’s? What are the homeowners’ habits that have caused the carpet stain?

As a “professional” observant who makes a living out of what I think and write, I’m also constantly profiling people met on the streets. Who are they? Which demographic groups do they belong? Their levels of education,interests, and vocations? Hobbies? Why do they choose to live in this city? Or are they migrants or visitors from other regions? Do they love this city? Why?

In addition to observing “real life,” I also observe the world of words and the world of ideas. Any information and available knowledge is fascinating and can trigger a whole set of curios responses, including the inspiration to write short pieces and long-form narratives, even books.

As a writer, I’m constantly provoked to read and write as much as possible, just for the sheer joy of it. Writing is a therapy for a suffering heart and a channel to express thoughts and ideas that verbal communications cannot provide. And being observant is one of the most important traits that allow me to write for both the readers and myself.

Life is easy breezy. Just remember to be graceful and observant.[], January 29, 2015

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