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When you laugh so hard, can you see?

January 12, 2012

Whenever I have physical pain, I think of Don, who suffered constantly from bodily pain. Last night I searched for something positive about Don’s physical condition. “There must have been something that stayed sound and healthy in his ailing body!” I insisted. Suddenly, I beamed, remembering his hazel green eyes. They were not only beautiful but also functioned magnificently. He often boasted that his vision was 20-20. He maintained that acuity through his old age for distance vision, but for reading, he wore glasses which he bought at drugstores–several pairs at a time since, he lost them so often. This brought me a smile, soon to be followed by a recollection of an incident during my Boston graduate school days.

I arrived in Boston in 1962. Such a long time ago. I had come to Boston with 44 pounds of luggage and 25 dollars of borrowed money to work on a Ph.D. in religion. Memories of the Korean War (1950-53) were still fresh. I wanted to find out why all-powerful and all-good God allowed evil to kill innocent children through legalized mass killing, named war. I also had a practical need to obtain an advanced degree. I wanted to get a good teaching position back home in Seoul, one that would give me regular pay checks to place into the palm of my mother, who struggled to put food on the table.

Thrown into a strange land, competing in a foreign tongue with native speakers of English, my homesickness and loneliness doubled each day. But my eyes were focused on achieving the goal with renewed determination as I greeted every morning. I had to survive and win! In the process, I found laughter that could hide my tears inside.

The sadder I got, the more I laughed. One day, a blonde girl from America’s heartland, Nancy, stared at me and asked, “Dai Sil, when you laugh so hard, can you see?” Her question made me laugh harder. What a question! It broke my heart, but I laughed and laughed.

What else could I do but to keep laughing? I told this story to Don. We both laughed so hard that we could not see things clearly, not because our eye openings– mine slanted, his round and filled with hazel green–constricted and blocked our sight, but our vision was made bleary with tears from laughter!

If any of the readers out there are worried about whether Asians see when they laugh so hard, take my word for it–they can see!

Eyes (June 12, 2006)


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  1. Rose permalink

    Thank you Dai Sil. ^.^ This reminds me of the time when my son Daniel who at the time was four years old. A little playmate of his said to him very genuinely, “Daniel, open your eyes, then you will be able to see.” Then my little son told her, “What do you mean? My eyes are open and I can see.”
    Hope this brings a smile to your heart, as you did for me with your sharing & thoughtful writings. Blessings to you. ❤ Warmest Regards, Rose Pae

    • Hi, Rose,

      Yes, your comment brought a smile to me. I am trying to see your Daniel in my mind’s eye. I bet he is handsome. I bet he is also very smart, not because he has slanted eyes!! That is another streotype about Asians –Asians as model minorities. How old is Daniel now?

      with thanks for writing to me and best,

      Dai Sil

  2. Rose permalink

    Dearest Dai Sil,

    Hello there! Thank you for gracious and honest words. I agree, regarding stereotypes. Well, Daniel is a wonderful boy! He’s now in the sixth grade and 11 years old.

    I most love about Daniel is that he is Daniel! Regardless. 🙂

    Best Wishes,

  3. Rose permalink

    Hi Dai Sil,

    Last one. I promise.

    (Smiling) In my humble opinion, hands down, Daniel has the best looking pair of eyes I’ve ever seen! Just like his Dad.<3

    Sincerely yours,

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