This I Believe

Wen - 30066, Georgia
Entered on February 22, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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My Hot-and-Sour Soup Life

I believe that life is like a bowl of hot-and-sour soup.

The ingredients are common: a piece of tasteless tofu, a cup of dried black mushrooms, a teaspoonful of sour white vinegar, and a handful of red chili peppers.

We live our lives with them.

Although tasteless, tofu is the most primary ingredient for the soup, just like our simple but truthful childhood. We are as naïve and pure as a piece of tofu when we are born, able to absorb all the wonderful richness around us. I was the “luckiest” girl because my mommy bought me that blue balloon I craved. I was the “richest” girl because my grandparents gave me a red envelope for the Chinese New Year. I was the “smartest” girl when I solved the one-plus-one addition on my own for the first time in kindergarten. I was so worriless and happy like I owned the world, a world as original as the broth in a bowl of hot-and-sour soup.

Despite their scary look, the dried mushrooms are the tasty and necessary ingredient for the soup. Problems are visible, like the dried black mushrooms floating on top of the soup. As I grew older, I was no longer lucky when my parents screamed at each other every day. I was no longer rich when we had to sell our cozy home to pay back my father’s debt in business. I was no longer smart when I could not figure out what was going on around my once-perfect family. We are all bothered by different kinds of problems encountered in our lives as we are farther away from our childhoods. However, without these troubles, we will miss the most meaningful parts of our lives, just like the soup would lose its flavor without the black mushrooms.

Along with the tasty mushrooms, a teaspoonful of white vinegar is the key attribute for the unforgettable sourness of the soup. That was the case with me. Our responses to problems are sour, or even bitter, like white vinegar. I became cynical and suspicious of everything. I was lost in the complicated material world that I study “blindly”, with neither dreams nor passion. We may be overwhelmed by the long and frustrating search for how to face our problems; we may be puzzled by the countless choices of ways to live; but we will find our roads to conquer the difficulties even though the process is as “sour” as a bowl of hot-and-sour soup prepared with vinegar alone.

Finally, the red chili peppers spice up the soup while we are experiencing the excitement and highlights in our lives. I could hear my joyful laughter when I found my dream to be a pharmacist. I could sense the pride of independence when I received my first paycheck. I could see my language improvement when I got the first A on my English papers. I could taste the hotness of success when I regained my optimism and achievement with the featured ingredients, a handful of red chili peppers.

I enjoy the absorbing tofu, chewy black mushrooms, strong-scented vinegar, and energetic peppers of a bowl of hot-and-sour soup. I believe that this bracing soup enriches and prepares me for a more enthusiastic life. Soup’s on!