By: Michael Han
Each of us has a turning point. It is either on the way or has arrived. Time is our ally on this. Given time, we will reach a turning point in our life that will give us hope, meaning and purpose.
Jaycie Tay found her turning point in a bus ride. Before that, she was twice divorced (with a child) and “has been twice incarcerated for drug offences.” Then, at the crossroad, between her home and a halfway house, she met John Shu, 50, at a bus stop.
John turned Jaycie’s life around in late 2013 when they met. A few months after that chance meeting, John, a techician, spoke to his wife and both agreed to give Jaycie $6000 out of their hard earned savings to help her pay for her studies.
Jaycie has since then completed her diploma in marketing management from Kaplan and is currently pursuing her degree. She is determined to turn her life around. That’s her turning point.
This is a modern day, unembellished good Samaritan story where perfect strangers became grateful friends.
Naturally, one turning point deserves another. And John found his when his family was struggling to pay for his own daughter’s poly/tertiery fees, and the president of Kaplan, Mr Choong, came forward, after calling for an immediate board meeting, to bless John with a $20,000 contribution to John’s daughter’s tertiery education.
Mr Choong said, “John had set in motion a chain of kindness and, in the concept of paying it forward, we didn’t want it to end there.”
And this is what John’s daughter said, “One of the struggles for my parents is the school fees for my university studies. With this money from Kaplan, it (serves as) motivation for me to work harder and, most importantly, lessens the stress for my parents.”
Imagine that. John’s kindness was shown expecting nothing in return, away from the limelight, and even in the midst of his own financial struggles. This is indeed giving from a good heart.
Jaycie said, “When Kaplan told me that they wanted to recognise his kind heart, I felt like God had sent something to help me repay (him).”
Lesson? I know there is no free lunch in this world. You reap what you sow by the sweat of your brow. Life is not going to give you a hand-out. You rise and fall by what you do or not do.
But alas, reality doesn’t always bow to cliches or platitudes. Sometimes, you do get a free meal from a stranger. You do reap what others sow in love and gratitude. Life nevertheless opens doors for you – short of a hand-out. And in the dark valley of your life, you find a light at a distance softly beckoning you to approach to experience a turning-point that would transform you for the better.
The “Johns” moments in our life come from both within and without. Let me count the ways. In a serendipitous flash, we see not the dark clouds, but a silver lining. In a quirk of inspiration, we experience a light-bulb moment of creativity and renewed strength. And in the most unexpected bend in life, when we are thrown a vicious curve ball, the one who bears the blow for us is our loved one, a friend or a perfect stranger.
In other words, some may deny us a free lunch and see us starve a meal. But if we don’t give up and keep moving forward, just around the corner is a free warm dinner waiting for us to set us on our way with a thankful spirit in a hopeful journey towards an overcoming life.
Yet, have no delusion, life would still be unfair and difficult. But the difference here is one of perspective. And this goes beyond seeing the glass half full or half empty. On the contrary, it is seeing (and believing) that there is a flowing river of kindness, an enduring glimmer of hope and a wide horizon of opportunities waiting for you along this hardscrabble journey.
Most importantly, it is seeing (and believing) that at most times, the pursuit of happiness is not that of your own, but of others. Cheerz.