Lucky Star

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My little brother was born without patience. Well, at least it seemed that way.

The tiniest problems frustrated him; he would wail and kick the table when there was a maths problem he could not work out, and he would give up if he failed after the first try. Five minutes was forever for him, boredom made him slink around and saying "Urgh..." every ten seconds. He could not sit still for more than fifteen minutes, he could not go three minutes without noise escaping from his raspberry lips. He always had to be the one who gets to speak or use the computer first. He is not hyperactive, as you would presume. Try getting him to button his own shirt in the morning and take a shower after school. He would suddenly act as if his legs weighed a ton. It is just the simple fact that WAIT, is the one command that he simply would not follow, and that everything HAS to go his way, or else.

Oh, we tried, I assure you. We tried nearly everything to get him to be as patient as the rest of the family. We tried teaching him to complete puzzles, read an entire book, games that required him to wait and be still. We were patient with him, after hearing all that mumbling about him being a piece of paper and he is what we make him. We read books around him, tried to talk sense into him when he made mistakes instead of intimidating him with a clothes hanger or yelling at him at the top of our lungs. His eyes would just dart around, his shoulders hunch forward, his lips would set into a grim line.

We thought he was hopeless, we thought we tried everything we could to help him. We were exhausted, tired, frustrated as he was when he could not recall how to spell word.

Until the day I taught him how to fold lucky stars.

As usual, he was waiting for me at the main entrance of my school. I read his adorable face, trying to guess how his day was like, or if he had cracked while waiting for me for about a half hour. There was something different about him that day. His eyes sparkled, he bounced on his toes in anticipation as he saw me approaching. He then decided I was walking too slow, ran towards me, had his little fingers clasped around my arm and dragged me out of the school and into our car while I stumbled a few times on my way.

"Look what I've got!" he said as soon as we sat down in the car. I watched as he fished around in his pockets and pulled out a pack of colorful paper strips.

"I got them at the book fair in school!" He showed me the different designs he got, and told me they were for folding stars. I did not want to interrupt him, as he was rarely this excited and fascinated about anything before. Well, except for that game console mom bought him on his birthday, but still.

He turned the plastic package that held the strips and looked at the instructions printed on the back. His eyebrows knitted together as he squinted at the flashy pictures of strips of things that folded over itself. He was obviously confused. He then ripped off a strip of paper and stared at it for a few moments. He looked up to me with his big round eyes and asked, "Do you know how to do this?"

I took a strip of purple paper and showed him how to fold it like you would tie a knot with a normal piece of string. Having weaker mechanical skills, his chubby fingers fumbled and creased the paper instead. He looked up at me again, the bright afternoon sunlight bouncing off his eyes and making them glint like beautiful brown crystal orbs. I held his tiny hands in mine as I guided his fingers to hold the paper in a cross, lifted an end of the paper and looping it through another. He pulled the end gently, and smiled in amazement as the knot ended in a perfect pentagon with a long tail.

I showed him how to fold in the excess flap on the shorter end of the paper, then demonstrated the steps that followed. His eyes sparkled with curiosity in his eyes as he watched my fingers, nimble and quick, working at the paper. I folded the longer end over the pentagon, and asked him to do the same. Thinking he knows what he was doing, his fingers moved clumsily and forced the tail end awkwardly over the pentagon's bottom, and wrapped it round and round. I chuckled at his ignorance and he glared at me in return, his bottom lip sticking out.

I gently pried his fingers off his paper and showed him how to fold the tail end the right way. I told him to watch carefully as I folded the paper, without forcing it to go the way I want, just guiding it naturally towards the direction it was "destined" to go. I handed the paper back, and watched as he made the same mistake and forced the paper to fold at an awkward angle. Tired and frustrated, I sighed and threw my head backwards and let my eyelids slip down my pupils. I gave up.

My ears twitched as the sound of paper crackling made its way into my dreams. My eyes eased open, and when they have adjusted to the bright light, my heart skipped a beat.

He was still trying.

I smiled and I showed him how to fold the paper again. "See how it naturally folds this way and that?" I said. "I don't have to force it anywhere, I just push the paper down gently, and it automatically folds towards the direction it wants to go."

In life, we all want to have absolute control over everything. The weather, the stocks, the economy, the law, the way some people act, the way people see us. But like folding a lucky star, we cannot force everything the way we want to go, the paper would just crease and the outcome is an ugly, ripped piece of paper with a really weird shape. But if we go just with the flow, accept everything as it is, make the best of things and just gently fold the paper at the edge where it goes, we might get a nice little pentagon. The direction of the folds in it might not be of your own will, but the pentagon you made on the very first step, when you knotted the paper, will still show at the end. And with a gentle push at the flat edges of your perfect pentagon, even though it's tricky and you might make a mistake or risk ruining your pentagon, chances are you will get a pretty little star in the end.

I watched as his lips formed a perfect "o" as he pushed at the edges, and see the perfect five-pointed star he had made. He admired his pretty little lucky star with pride and passed it to me so I could have a look at his masterpiece, too. I smiled at him, the corners of my mouth stretching from ear to ear. I placed his lucky star in his breast pocket and smiled. He looked up at me again, and beamed, his face lit up brighter than the blazing sun behind him.

That evening, he sat at the coffee table with strips of paper laying astray on the table. His head was bent, his eyes squinted as he concentrates on his fingers. They moved quickly, bending a colorful strip of paper this way and that. Finally, after being admired against the orange glow of the evening sun, his newborn star was placed in a glass bottle, joining the hundred other stars he made that very same hour.

By learning how to fold his very own lucky star, my brother learned to be patient. He also learned that, no matter how much we want it to, life is not something we can have control over. We just have to fold over the rough edges, and make it as beautiful as a star in a clear night sky.





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Kenniekonglee said...
Aug. 14, 2011 at 1:25 am
This is so touching...
 
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