Category Archives: Because of Love

Learning Music After Retirement, & Having Fun Doing it

The importance of how learning is an ongoing process, the need for a hobby to be established after retirement age, translated…

As children grow up, my mother in her sixties decided to pick up on her dreams when she was younger: taking up the music lessons.  She’d not just signed up for the electric piano classes at the community center, she’d, disregarded my father’s objections, signed HIM up for the sax lessons.  Seeing how the two bought their instruments, and as time for the classes came, they’d, rushed out, packed the big and small packs to take along, and naturally, as children, we are, most, supportive of them.

Then ever since as I’d come back home on the weekends or holidays, I’d, heard music, “floating in the air”—for the players of recorder in the music classes, I’m sure, that we can all agree, that the sound that came out as beginners played, isn’t musical.  As the cat heard the music started, sounding off, it’d, scattered away, quick, with that look of, “What did I do to deserve this” on its face.  But, my father has a serious nature, and on occasions, he’d complained about how my mother “made” him go to class, but he’d still, picked up the sax every day and, started from the basics of blowing air between the reeds, making the sounds, and, playing the simple notes, and each practice session runs for over two hours at a time.  To not bug the neighbors, my father would hide inside the bathrooms, shut the doors and the windows as he’d practiced inside the loo.

And my mother, who’d, started all of this, wouldn’t be beaten by my father, she’d taken the piano for several months, and, at her instructors recommendations, she’d started playing the flute.  The sax and the flutes are both woodwind instruments, but, the sax sounded fuller, while the flute sounded, like floating in the air, the two instruments go on and off inside the house, and it’d, made the listeners, uneasy, but the cat didn’t mind, as my mother sat herself down to play, it’d hopped onto my mother’s knees, and, lay down, sometimes, the cat would, stare, deep into my mother’s eyes, like he was enjoying this sound that’s, at the same frequency of his, meowing.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/想樂

As my mother got into playing, she’d, poured her heart and soul into it, and she’d, complained to us on how she’d, hit a fork in her practice sessions.  Until one day, she’d shared with me excitedly, that her high school instructor started playing the flute when she was seventy, and, she’d continued playing, and she’s having a decade recital soon, that she will, follow her teacher’s, lead too, she’d found herself a private lesson instructor, from the pop music, she’d, advanced to the classical.  The teacher was demanding of the aperture, and I’d seen my mother focusing on sticking her tongue out, with her mouth open.

And, after awhile, the cacophony became, less and less, I can already, sit quite, settled in, in the living room, as my mother played the flute, sometimes, I’d, closed my eyes, and imagined the poetic verses as I listened to her play.  While my father favorite tune, “Amazing Grace” started with amazing, and now, there’s, the grace “factor” that’s, included in too.  Being an avid learner, he’d not only satisfied in reading the simplified sheet music, he’d even started, picking up my old sheet music, and learned to read the notes off the staff.

As our family gathered for the New Year’s this year the two of them put on a show, and, gotten a full applause from all around the room.  I can’t help but feel in awe, no matter how old you are when you started pursuing your dreams, it’s never too late.  Your lives are, fulfilled, you can find friends who shared the same interests, and it helps activate your mind, to slow down the process of aging, and it gives you that sense of achievement too.  My mother also testified, that picking up the piano was a breakthrough for her, that was the very first time she’d ever, chosen to take the lessons seriously, and knew, that she could, do it!  As we were growing up, being forced to sit at the piano to play was torture for us, but, as my parents got older, started picking up on the instruments, they’d not only, entertained themselves, but us too!

And so, this, is the right attitude that we should all carry, when we pick up on something, like these two older adults, and, maybe it’s because of their mindsets being, more matured, nobody’s pushing them to learn the musical instruments, they’d picked it up on their own, that was why they’re, able to, play it with so much joy.

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Filed under Because of Love, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Observations, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, Translated Work, Values

A Beautiful , Yet Sad Story, Love in the Schooling Years

The love that didn’t get spoken in time, the love that passed on, with the death of that someone you liked in your, schooling years, and what his death had, taught you, translated…

One Day, I’d, Opened up My Closet, and No Matter How Hard I’d, Looked, I Just, Couldn’t, Find Those, Two Shirts, and because They’re of My Personal Collections, I’d, Not Dared Made it Open, Nor Asked Anyone, I can Only, Pull Out All the Clothes, and Prodded with My Hands, Inside that, Emptied, Drawer………………

I Just Want to Grab onto Something, a Strand of What was Left Was, Fine

My first love came to a halt, in an accident, that boy I liked in my second year of middle school, before we had the chance to exchange a single word with one another, vanished, without, a single, trace.

I was only fourteen, had absolutely NO clue of how the universe worked, I looked all around me, and saw, nothing, but the fogs, and so, I’d felt, that strong sense of helplessness, over this world which I’d originally, had a firm grasp over, I’d, wanted to, extend my hand outward, and fish around, for something, anything!

I was, close to the boy’s younger sister, she’d, worked her best, to sort through everything that her older brother had, left behind, in the countryside of Kaohsiung, everybody was living in poverty stricken means, they seem to be worse off than we were, and, what she could give me were, a couple of blurry photographs, two of her older brother’s shirts, and, the textbook that seemed to have never been, flipped through by him.

I’d carried these things as if they were, something, precious, with tentativeness and care, I’d, stashed the photo inside my diary, and, folded his clothes up to tiny, placed them to the depth of my own closet, and, I’d, read through all the pages of his textbooks thoroughly.  Back then, I’d already, read a ton of, novels, and among these, were the romances, and I’d, stubbornly held on to the beliefs of: he liked me, although just like me, he’d, never said aloud, btu he must’ve, stashed that feeling inside his heart, and, written some lines about it.

I can’t know his heart anymore, but, who knows, if he’d, only, written something inside the texts, as he’d drifted into space in class?

The summers in Kaohsiung, those, never ending, summer days, came together in a bundle, in front of the window, in the sunlight, I’d, flipped through the volumes page by page, Chinese, history, math, geography……………the class of loose students, there was only the difference of the colors of the pages being pure white, and yellow.  The schemata which were, activated in my mind, and for every horizontal stroke of pen, I’d, immediately believed that it was the first stroke of my own last name; and yet, the young boy didn’t even leave a dot of his ballpoint pen.

And so, I can only, return all his textbooks, to the past.

And so, what remained, of my first love, were the two shirts, three photos, a newspaper clipping of how two middle school boys drowned by the oceans, along with that locked diary, crawling with my handwriting ink.

No Blackhole, Nor Boy in Hiding

One day, I’d opened up my closet, and can’t find those two shirts no matter how hard I’d tried, and because they’re, my private stash, I’d not dared, asked anybody, and can only, pull all the clothes out, and, prodded into the drawers now emptied, with my own hands, that maybe, there was, a blackhole inside, that swallowed everything that didn’t belong; or maybe, there’s, that secret tunnel in the back of my wardrobe, that the boy didn’t die, he’s, just, hiding, and, came in the middle of the nights, to pull his own shirt away, wanting to tell the girl: hey, I’m still here, in some corner of this world.

Then, the diary I’d kept at the bottom of my desk drawer, seemed to have moved around, I’d taken it out to look, the locks were cut off, and the photo, the newspaper clippings, all gone, and the smeared pages I’d written down as I cried, were all, torn off, perfectly.

Okay, okay, there was, NO blackhole, no mystery, no boy hidden, the one who’d, wiped it all away was, my mother.

My homeroom instructor must’ve called my parents about this, and in the heat of anger, my mother swept up my room, got rid of everything that she deemed as obstacles in my life, everything I’d, hold too dearly to my mind.

illustration from UDN.com

圖/Emily Chan

For the first few years, the boy was buried in that tiny cemetery in the bamboo forest, in the middle of the fields, then after the bones were collected, the headstone removed, then, the fields, the bamboo forest got turned into a huge, construction site, then, the concrete jungle came atop, there’s no place for me, to remember him then.

Then, what I wrote, it will do, right.  I’d written everything into a novel on BBS, and everybody liked it, it’d reminded the readers of everything in their own, younger, years, I’d even, published it, sold many copies too, but a few years, the book became, out-of-print, and, forgotten, by the, world then.

So, everything with a set form, disappear eventually, no matter how hard you’d tried to hold on, that handful of sand still, slips out.  I’d prodded these past two years, even the parents of the boy had both, passed on, and, those who’d remembered the guy’s smile, got reduced by two more people, will we all, not leave, anything behind, one day, just spreading out palms out?

No, maybe, there’s, something that’s, evolved, and now, I’d not rummaged through my daughter’s closets, drawers, or read her diaries anymore, to not throw away anything she’d, stashed away in secret.

To protect someone’s complete forms of her/his youth, that was, what that boy who’d died too young had, given to me, a life-long, gift.

And so, this lesson from this boy you liked who’d died, taught you a lesson with his death, that love is precious, that you must, take a hold of the love you want to hold onto in the now, otherwise, it will, slip away too quickly, and, you’d also, learned to, NOT read your own teenage daughter’s diary, to let her have her private things, that only she is aware of, because your mother didn’t respect your things!

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Filed under Because of Love, Interpersonal Relations, Life, Loss, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life, The Teenage Years

Sharing Underneath the Starry Night Skies

A good way, to put that cadence on the past year, and start off fresh, on a, new note for this year!  Translated…

For the New Year’s in the past, we’d, gone by tradition, passed it day after day, gathered at the round table for the New Year’s Eve meals, gone to the relatives’ to wish everybody there a happy New Year, to the hot tourist attractions to visit……….it’s, a holiday, that “gathered” us all up.

But thinking back, that was, more like a, sort of, formality.  And, the protocol of that was, watching T.V., sliding on our cell phones, or, saying the words that don’t show any, real care or concerns.

illustration that came with this article, courtesy of UDN.com

圖/蛋妹

My ideal New Year’s, is to, REDUCE this sort of a vacant interaction, but with more conversation, communication.  Turn off the T.V., put up those cell phones, on the day like New Year’s, get out of the house, to sort through what’s on our minds.  Go to a place where you see your stars, lifting up your heads, sharing your thoughts with one another.  Everybody sit in a circle with leisure, and take turns, telling about what one gained in this past year, what touched us in the last year, to get rid of those formalities of how we are, supposed to, show our cares and concerns, and truly, listen to what one another is, sharing.  Becoming an audience, also, a part of the group that shared everything.

And so, this, is something that’s, needed, in this day and age, because, we don’t talk with each other in depth regularly, that’s why, we’d become, so, disconnected through the entire year, and, the New Year’s is a good time, to restart that connection, to share with one another, what we’d, endured through during the past year, to find closure to the year before, so we can, start off on another year, on a, clean, slate!

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Filed under Because of Love, Connections, Family Dynamics, Family Matters, Life, Observations, Parent-Child Interactions, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, Story-Telling, Values

The Air, My Friend

The column by Jimmi Liao, on the calming words of reassurance, offered to a young child, translated by me…

The Cloud Rocked Me in its Arms,

Hummed that Lullaby,

Don’t Worry Little Baby, Fret Not Little Baby

The Clouds are Light, the Wind Gentle, Everything Will be, All Right………

the artwork of Jimmi Liao, off of UDN.com圖/幾米

We are all in need, of this sort of a reassurance right now, especially with this whole world currently going crazy, and, the safest place we can find is here, inside our minds, for in our own minds, we are, able to, live on freely, without any worries or fears!

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Filed under Because of Love, Childhood, Creative Writing, Kindness Shown, Life, Parent-Child Interactions, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, The Education of Children, Translated Work, Values

Why Had She, Married Me

I wonder, W-H-Y, is that, huh???  Translated…

MERS-CoV had, affected my moods.  But actually, it doesn’t matter where we all go on our family vacation, it’s dangerous all around.  Just like, for my dearly beloved wife and I, being married over twenty years, still very much in love, and this trip to Japan, we’d had, our equal shares of fights with each other.  We’d argued on the bigger matters of, should we wear those masks or not.  Which way to go, what to have for our suppers, just not that, it’s too pricey, and, as she’d gone into the shops, she’d always stated, “I’ll only be a minute!”

And, “how many articles of clothing we should bring for the kids?” this long debated over topic for instance.  My “he’s dressed too warm already, he’s turning eighteen soon”, and I still couldn’t win from, “Then, if he gets a fever and it’ll be your fault if we aren’t allowed on the flights tomorrow then!”  and I can, only use the advantage of how later on that day, as my wife shopped around, sweating all over, as if there are, nine suns shining inside the malls, asking my son in front of her, “Are you, cold?”, this sort of, a prickly language.  And my youngest was compliant, stated, “wow, you’re right dad, it’s, super, duper cold!”, and, his mother rolled her eyes, all the way around her head several times.

There are, still a ton of, repeated events, that occurred, outside of or within, our, awareness.  Like the heating packs.  I’d later discovered, that my child’s mother, took the ten packs that she went to Hokkaido with, when it wasn’t, that cold, packed it all back in, to the luggage to Kyoto again.  She’d, brought it along, like, a security blanket, whether it’s, actually, cold or not.

Just like, how we’d wanted something brand new on these trips, we’d wanted to, connected these streets and shops inside of, our memories, and finally, we’d, trekked through all the specialty stores of Kyoto in, three years, then, at four, we’d, bumped into a shop that’s, about to close for the day, to finally, sit ourselves down, for lunch.  As I sorted through the menu, ordered the foods, I feel my legs’ numbness, go all the way, into my brains.  My youngest son stated, “Mommy, you look like you’re, about, to cry from walking so long.’, a joke or sorts, and, it’d, accidentally, twisted open ALL the faucets available there in Kyoto.  His mother’s tears came overflowing outward.  And, my youngest and I stared at each other, felt like, it must’ve been, something that each other had done, to cause, all of this.

“Before the temple awhile ago, at Kiyomizu Buddhist Temple, I’d called out to you both, to take those masks off for the pictures,” she’d, sniffled and continued, “and, I’d called you two as our two sons…………”, then, she’d, finally, melted down.  Yeah, surely, this was, the very first trip we’d, taken, without, our, eldest son.

Just like, we needed a place to travel to, to help everybody get past something, through that long underpass shopping strip, to the train station in Osaka, we’d bumped into a kind girl, who’d, helped me wife load up on her bus pass.  As we’d found that the young woman was, also from Taiwan, my dearly beloved wife started, casting aside all of our, itineraries, and started that conversation with that young lady, and found she was here, for a work-vacation.  Then, she’d started, showing her cares and concerns of how the young woman’s mask wasn’t, thick enough, like it was, lined with, only, a thin piece of, gauze or something.  The young woman told her that she’d run all over the pharmacies, but, all the masks were, out.  Then, my dearly beloved wife suddenly, pulled out the medical-grade mask she’d prepared for this trip, a pack of FIVE!, placed it in the young woman’s hand.  After pushing it back repeatedly, this young woman finally, took it, this gift that’s, not bought or sold, along with the kindness, from a complete, stranger.

This made my goosebumps surfaced, and I’d, felt, mildly, proud of my wife too.  She’s, quite compassionate.  Just like, my losers friend told me, that’s why, she’d, married me.

And all of that led to your, final conclusion of, “that’s why she’d, married you!”, it’s because of how kind, how sympathetic, how empathetic your wife is in nature, that she’d, married you, and, you should be, blessed, to find a wife who’s, kindhearted like that too!

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Filed under Awareness, Because of Love, Expectations, Life, Marriages, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Romance, Story-Telling, Translated Work, Values

Lost in Thought, a Poem

On trying and finally accepting, the inevitable: DEATH, translated…

On the Day I Dreamt of My Mother

I’d Not Checked the Albums on My Phone to See

If the Buddha Had His Eyes Lowered

If the Background was the Mountains or the Cliffside

Don’t Lie to Me, Just, Come All Out

The Lenses, Too Worldly

Can’t Switch to that Boundary

The Mothers of Others Kept Aging

Becoming Those, Old Yams, Old Taros with the Bearded Roots

Walking Slower, No Need to Rush

Take Your Children & Grandchildren, Dragging Yourself Along that Stroller

In the Early Evenings, the Swallows Returned Back to Springtime

That Stumbling Shadow with the Back Turned Had Always Been Mistaken by Me

That It Shall Be, Returned, to that Familiar Address

The Storyline Shattered, and Crumbled Multiple Times

Slowly I Knew to Hide, so I Can Accompany This One Dream

No Need to Argue, No Need to Tell the News

God Shall Come by, the Eggshell Broken

It’s Best that You’re, Taken Hostage

And Get Hatched and Become Anything Else

What’s Meant to Come in Eventuality, the Crowds Appeared in Black-and-White, Silent in the Freeze Frames

There’s Too Much Logic Underneath the Sun

Circling Oneself, Enveloping Oneself

Using a Lock, to Escape

I am, Out

Walked in a Straight Line with My Own Mother

Don’t Clench My Hands Too Tight, Don’t Rest

And, Don’t Blink

So this is, a man’s, coping with his own mother’s, death, because, of how his mother is, almost dead, and he is finally, allowing the fact of what’s, inevitable, sink into his mind…coping with this, loss that simply can’t be, avoided.

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Filed under Awareness, Because of Love, On Death & Dying, Philosophies of Life, Poetry, Properties of Life, the Finality of Life

The Deceased

Translated…

The Wind and Rain Suddenly Came in the Middle of the Nights

Hacked Hard, at the Boards in the Backyard.  As Dawn Breaks, the Sun, Seeped Through, the Cracks of the Windows

First, it was, Cohen, with His, Lower Voice, Gone, then, Wanda and Her Smiles Too.  I Was, Once Like, Their Child, Growing in Their, Happiness.  They’d, Left Some of Whom They Loved Behind, on the Vinyl Players, Some, Oxidized with the DVDs, Some, Can’t Even Remember Themselves, Slowly, Dissipated, into the Air, Touching Those Strangers they Meet on Occasions.

As My Son Lay on Me Before He Drifts to Sleep, He’d Wanted Me to be a Boat.  To Rock, to Sway Singing on, How Much Longer, Can I, Carry You?  The Small Boat Has its Own Paths, to Sail, to Vanish.  But, I Shall, Return, I Shall, Keep on, Rocking You, Be it Rain or Wind, or that, Soundless, Sunshine Through Your Windows.

And this, is on death, on how we can, keep those we’d lost in our minds, and they’re not, really gone away, after all, NOBODY can, escape, death, because you were, born once!

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Filed under Awareness, Because of Love, Coping Mechanisms, Letting Go, Life, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, the Finality of Life, Values

Passing Through, on a Bamboo Raft, a Poem

On burying one’s own, offspring, translated…

A Bamboo Raft, Like a Red Lotus Passed Through

Vanished, into the Fog

“Affinities of Children, Thin Like the Foams on the Waterfront”

So True These Words

Watching the Sunset Light Withering in the West

Time Has No Place Here

Memories Can’t Hide

The Awareness, Electric Shocked

Who isn’t, Like that Small Raft

Drifting in-Between Life & Death

Listening to the Heaviness of the Repentance of Love & Lust

With the Broken Bridges, Severed Off Streams, the Dying Smokes

And so, this, is finally, coming to one’s senses about the finality of life, because you’d lost the ones you loved when they were too young, and you are, still living, you’d, needed to, cope with losing the ones you cared for, loved, your, own young…

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Filed under Awareness, Because of Love, Coping Mechanisms, Cost of Living, Despair, Lessons, Letting Go, Life, Loss, On Death & Dying, Story-Telling, the Finality of Life, Translated Work, Values

Because of Your Not Ready to Let Me Go, I Had to, Suffer, Longer than I Had to…

tattooed, around the area where the tube is, supposed to, go in…photo from online

I’d been found, in the TERMINAL stage of cancer, it’d, progressed too advance, metastasized, took over, my other organs as well, but because of your not ready to let me go, I had to, suffer, longer than I had to.

I get, that you love me, and couldn’t see me die, but heck, EVERYBODY dies, I’d, already, come to understand that, through the course, of this, illness, and, as my cancer had, progressed, little, by little each and every day, I’d, become, less than all I once was, I’d lost, ALL my dignities, I’d started, wearing DIAPERS for crying on loud, and needed people, to carry me up and down, and I can’t even, sit STRAIGHT, in my god damn, WHEELCHAIR either!

Despite everything that’s been done, my cancer is still “on”, in fact, it’s, MORE than on, and, this last round of chemo, it’d, left me, so FUCKING weak, I can’t even see anything in front of my eyes now.

查看來源圖片the forms…photo from online

Is this the way, I want to live? HELL no! And yet, you’re, still, keeping me here, but W-H-Y, huh? Why do you, HATE me so, that you feel compelled, to DRAG me through this SHIT in these dying days of mine? And, why can’t I, just, have some peace, and just, live from breath to breath?

I’m NOT afraid to D-I-E, by any measures, in fact, I wish I were DEAD now, and yet, look at, these tubes that are, attached to my body, there’s one, to drain out the excess fluids, one that’s, in my arms, to draw the blood out for testing’s sake, and oh, do you not see, this tube that’s, stuck down MY fucking throat here? And, don’t EVEN, get ME started, on what feeding time is like every single time here???

Now, ask yourselves this: would THIS be the way, you all want to, live out the rest of your lives? And, if you could have a choice, wouldn’t you, just, want someone, to PULL the P-L-U-G-S?

So, why are you, still, keeping your own loved ones, connected to that monitor, beeping, beeping, beeping, beeping, beeping, and beeping away, huh?

This is, completely, I-N-H-U-M-A-N-E, and NOBODY deserves to, LIVE like this, especially, NOT during those, final days, years, months of her/his, life………

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Filed under Awareness, Basic Human Rights, Because of Love, Cost of Living, Do-Not-Resuscitate, Euthanasia, Expectations, Issues of Morality, Letting Go, Life, Mercy Killings, Observations, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Right to Die, The Right to Choose How One Will Die, Values

Disregarding the Costs, the Mobile Supermarkets Entered into the Distant Regions, “We Can’t Care about the Costs”

A social welfare program, that didn’t, CARE about the cost, but only, helping the locals, we need more of these in the world right now that’s for sure! From the Newspapers, translated…

The mountain regions in Yilan is off-the-maps, the locals can’t shop easily, the Helping with Love Supermarket’s C.E.O., Chu made a wish of “delivering the groceries to the distant regions”, push for the mobile supermarket programs, used two million dollars to alter the 3.5-ton truck into a mobile marketplace, yesterday, the truck was official, it’d, delivered the meats, the vegetables, the fruits, the instant noodles, the soy sauces, the daily needs, along with, over a thousand groceries, up to the mountains, to sell.

photo from UDN.com宜蘭山區部落購物不便,喜互惠推出「行動超市」,昨天正式營運。 記者羅建旺/攝影the grovery store on wheels…

The mobile supermarket at the start of the year, started the trials of using a 1.5 ton truck, it’d gone to the regions of Nanshan, in Datong, the Four Seasons, the Ylang, the Song-Luo, Le-Shui, Ying-Shih, along with Nan-Ao, the native tribal areas first, and, also, to the communities far off in the northern Yilan, Gueishan, Daxi, and other local communities, so these distant towns can also, get their needed groceries.

“We don’t care about the costs!” the mobile supermarket is out on the road a lot, of it, it takes two hours per way, to the 1,200 meter high Datong’s Nanshan Tribes, a total of four hours, over a hundred meters, Chu said, the items in the mobile supermarket is exactly the same as what we sell in the cities, in prices too.

The mobile supermarkets’ “shelves” don’t have the randomized groceries, it’d been, surveyed by the statistics, to see which items are mostly needed by the locals, and, everything the locals need, they can, preorder it from online, the meats, the vegetables, and, then, after the orders were, placed, the mobile supermarket drives up the mountains, there’s no extra, delivery charges.

Chu said, other than deliveries made to the distant regions, if there are larger scale functions, or nursing homes that needed, the mobile supermarkets will deliver, “when we are, service-oriented, we stopped considering the costs!”, Chu said, that the mobile supermarkets bring in a set income, and, considering the costs of gas, of the wear and tear of the vehicles, the drivers, and the costs for hiring the cashiers, they’d have a negative earning, but, because of the needs of the distant regions, it needs, to be done.

And so, this, is something wonderful this man started, he saw a need, and, provided the services, and, we need more of these, understanding minds, more of these, helping states of minds, to make this world a better place, and this man is, already, doing more than his share, to make a difference, in the lives, of others, not caring about the costs.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under A Cycle of Kindness, Because of Love, Cause & Effect, Cost of Living, Helping Behaviors, Inspirational Tales, Kindness Shown, Miscelaneous, News Stories, Properties of Life, Social Issues, Stories of Hope