Inner Demons


Homeless man in Singapore

Everyday he sat at that same spot,

leaning against the grimy pillar,

avoiding eye contact with passersby.

Despite never making a sound, his presence was always felt.

There was an evident torment in his eyes.

Was it regret? Guilt?

What caused this man such deep anguish?

I shall never know.

Although I do not know what troubles him, I can somehow relate.

For we all have demons buried within us.

Some are just better than others at hiding them.

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3 Life Lessons from a 10-Year-Old


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Today while I was having breakfast at McDonald’s, a young boy plopped himself next to me. I assumed that he was saving a seat for his family, but after a few minutes no one came and I realized he was on his own.

He glanced over at me and after a few minutes of awkward silence, he spoke in a monotone, “So shouldn’t you be at work?”

“Shouldn’t you be at school?” I retorted.

“No, it’s exams day today, but my tests aren’t until Friday.”

“So you don’t need to study?”

“Nope. I’d rather play video games with my friend.”

“Fair enough.”

Lesson learned: Take time out of your busy schedule to take a walk, spend time with your friends and family, or even play video games.

You’d be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more productive you are after recharging.

After our idle chitchat, I returned to reading the news thinking the boy would go about his way. But he just sat there and watched me read. So I turned to him and asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

He quickly replied, “A basketball player.”

“Why do you want to be a basketball player?”

“Because I’m really good at basketball.”

“Do you play on a team?”

“Yep.”

“So you’re the best player on the team?”

“Nope.”

“Second best?”

“Nope.”

“Third best?”

“Nope,” the boy confidently exclaimed. “I’m the sixth best player on the team!”

I gave him a perplexed look. “And you still want to be a basketball player when you grow up?”

Yep. No one can stop you from doing what you love to do – even if you’re really bad at it.”

I sat there speechless. This kid had more confidence and determination than most adults I’ve met. I truly hope he maintains that fire and pursues his dream.

Lesson learned: It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

As we grow older, we often lose sight or give up on our dreams for various reasons, whether it is family responsibilities, financial burdens, or other extenuating circumstances. Sometimes all we need to do is look to kids to remember what it was like to be a dreamer and hopefully act on our childhood dreams.

At this point, the boy and I chatted like two elderly men on a park bench.

“So do you have a cell phone?” I asked jokingly.

“Nope.”

“Do you?”

“Yep.”

The boy began looking around for my phone. “Is it an iPhone 5?”

I pulled my antiquated phone from my pocket and looked disappointingly at it. “No, it’s an iPhone 3.”

Well, something is better than nothing,” he said as if to cheer me up.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

“Why do all adults have to have iPhones or cell phones?” he inquired.

“Well, that’s a good question. We need it to keep in touch with our loved ones and to make sure they can call us in case of an emergency.”

“If I need to call my friend, I just yell his name out the window or run to his house.”

I couldn’t help but grin at the boy’s guileless response.

Lesson learned: Appreciate what you’ve got, not what you want.

The older we get, the more obsessed  we become with material possessions – houses, cars, cell phones, and so on. But think back to when you were 10-years-old. You probably only “owned” a few items, which made you cherish them even more.

Following our half-hour discussion, the boy headed to his friend’s house, while I remained there contemplating the life lessons that this 10-year-old boy had just bestowed upon me.

Have you experienced a similar encounter? What life lessons did you pick up?