This morning I had an amazing conversation with my mentor, Rose. She reminds me of the Rose from the movie ‘Titanic’. I’ll blog about Rose soon. But tonight I was just going to go home after a day of running around doing stuff, when my friend, Ben (Cuong), invites me to go hang out with him and his friends (Tammy, Van, Trang and his wife Huong). Where I can now, I don’t want to miss an opportunity to meet new people, learn from them and share stories – everyone always has a great story.
As I was hanging out at the bubble tea shop, I didn’t really give more than 1 second notice to the pan-handler standing outside. He might as well have been just a sign-post, or a street ornament because I didn’t see him as anything worthy of my time nor attention. As a matter of fact, we took a walk outside several times for fresh air and I didn’t even make eye contact with him – simply dismissed and ignored him. I even felt a bit awkward when he asked me for “spare change”, thinking “how dare he make me feel guilty for not digging into my pocket for some change”. So upon coming back the second time I dug out a few bucks and in the past would simply hand it to him and walked away. However in my journey of "awareness", I paused and said how ya doing? He said, “I’m hanging in there.” So I said, “If I gave you a few bucks, would you talk to me for a little bit?” What he shared was eye-opening to me…
His name was Eric, he was originally from Vegas. He came to Seattle looking for work earlier this year and then lost his job about 4 months ago. After a few weeks, he lost his apartment and then went looking for the city shelter to spend the nights. He said he tried looking for other work, but no luck (he mumbled a few reasons here and there). So 2 months ago he started pan-handling out in the street. He said he averages around $40 a day. A day would be from nearly daylight to nearly mid-night (a long day for $40).
I chat up more with him about his past, trying to understand another person’s story and he was more than willing to share. He talks about his upbringing, his mom, and family – of course a rough childhood. But what got him stirred up was how he felt when passerby’s would make rude comments like “why don’t you get a job” and other colorful language to him. He was angered of course, noting that “people don’t know my story, what happened and the circumstances I went through.” I personally don’t appreciate it either when people start judging me without knowing or understanding me first.
I felt bad leaving my new friends waiting for over 20 minutes, but needless to say, Eric was doing all that he could to simply “hang in there.” When all else fails, hang in there! Tomorrow’s another day and you never know what doors will open up to you, what will fall on your lap or who you meet on the street. I mentioned a few words of hope and encouragement to him and walked back into join my friends. So when you think your life is bad… just tell your “hand in there __[insert your name here]__.”
Miki is a renowned motivational speaker and author. He appeared in the 2015 Oscar nominated film "The Last Days in Vietnam" directed and produced by Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of Robert F. Kennedy. He often speaks to others on the ways in which they can better their lives. His history is well documented in the documentary that shares the amazing story of his father Ba Van Nguyen and his bravery during the last few days in the Fall of Saigon. His message is one of enlightenment and courage. Miki has overcome many obstacles as he and his family worked hard to create a life in the United States while their homeland was being torn apart. Through his father’s example of courage and commitment to a better life for his family Miki is inspired to be the best he can be and be of service to others by sharing his and his family’s experiences in an effort to give hope to all refugees who take the enormous risks of leaving everything behind in hopes of a better life.
Miki is available for speaking engagements on a number of topics and also has a new book to be published soon that will offer instruction and inspiration through the recanting of his life and his experiences in this extraordinary world we all call home. For more information visit http://www.mikinguyen.com