Bubbles and vapor.

I stared into her eyes, making conversation in English and asking pointed questions about her life. I was trying to get a feel of her day to day, as our family had long revered the counsel of her well-educated husband. I was so curious. Now I could see a more complete picture.

I can’t say I walked away from the conversation comforted by what I saw. She had a large home, grounded and affectionate children, but it was clear something was amiss.

Example #104,392 of incongruence. I was somewhat stunned, but not altogether surprised.

My whole life has been an example of fragments leading to a very pointed theme:

Money is a vapor and happiness cannot be bought.

One of the first things I remember agitating my dad about, perhaps not being able to make a dance recital or something, was when he responded with, “This is our bread and butter. One day, you’ll understand."

Just like in fourth grade, when I told my mother I loved Eric B., the cutest fifth grader I’d ever laid eyes on. He even responded to my love letter, guys. But Mom callously broke my heart: ”You don’t know what love is, Shawn."

What do you know, Mom! Even now at 29 I’m convinced I loved Eric B. truly madly deeply, and howdareyou tell me I didn’t.

I digress.

Money is a vapor. Happiness cannot be bought.

I search for symptoms of others’ broken fragments, because people are interesting and have stories. These little flag markers come from a hyper-vigilance I have for guarding my own. Hyper-vigilance, a term my counselor used. I love that descriptor.

But I do get it a little more now. Dad was creating something. He was working towards more. There’s always more to work towards. But I just wanted him to come to my damn dance recital.

FreethoughtShawn Li