The Gift of Misapplied Chinese Wisdom

By Beth Gulley

I heard a scholar of Ancient Chinese speak on Thursday morning, and he encouraged us to look beyond our usual expectations when we judge China’s progress. He called this concept first tier and second tier human rights. Later in the week I had a birthday, and I decided to misapply the speaker’s concept to my own situation. I got some great gifts, as most of us expect we will on our birthdays. But when I looked a little deeper, I began to appreciate the less obvious gifts in my life. For example, my husband gave me a beautiful scrapbook of the columns I wrote last year. He also filled it with blank pages because he expects me to write more columns, and this is a beautiful second tier gift.

Later that day, we met my mom for dinner. She gave me a brown paper package, tied up with string in homage of my favorite movie. Inside she filled it with jewelry and a decoupage plaque of my birth announcement. The second tier gift, though, was getting to see my mother on my actual birthday for the first time in fifteen years. After dinner we saw a stunning rendition of Godspell at Yardley Hall, and my children were spellbound. This too, I realized later, included the second tier gift of two children who can handle sitting through two hours of live theater and have interesting conversations about it afterward.

This morning, the children and the co-teacher in the Sunday school class I teach at My Father’s House presented me with a collection of poems they wrote about me. The second tier gift—I could tell from their poems they received the love and energy I try to give them. This evening I had coffee with an old friend whose birthday is the day after mine. The coffee was great, but the less obvious gift of a stimulating two hour conversation is what I took from that experience. (I was getting better at looking for the less obvious gift by this point.)

This year I received some beautiful gifts. Some of them I had to misapply Chinese wisdom to see.

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Posted by admin on Jan 19 2011. Filed under Beth Gulley, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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