Hanging on to the best memories of the old year…

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.
By Maramis

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

The year that is just ending, 2018, has been filled with many personal achievements, many happy and maybe not-so-happy memories, some good news and bad news, and maybe many unmemorable events that even now don’t register in a lowly position in one’s “remembery.” Sometimes it’s good that we forget a lot that we went through during the past year because we wouldn’t want to take those particular memories with us into the new year.
The good news about bad news, however, is that once we look at it objectively, we can often see where we might have contributed to it and go forward armed with more knowledge and perhaps the ability to
avoid similar situations in the future. How often do we look to those around us for the source of our problems or misery instead? Even once is too much, so let’s not do that anymore. Remember, if we contributed in any way to our own problems and misery that means we can contribute to our own solutions and happiness as well.
Because the year is ending means that whatever good came to us during those last twelve months is in danger of also disappearing into the past — being gone forever — unless we choose to hold on to that good, not just in memory, but also in the way all such good things enhance our lives and make us better than we were before…better and happier in spirit and being.
Who doesn’t have at least one memory about the past year that one would like to hang on to forever, or at least for the duration of this life? Think about it now. Did you experience a moment of love? Did you feel the love of another human being in an unexpected way? Did you witness an act of kindness above and beyond what one might expect in ordinary life?
One of my favorite little stories about love and kindness, which might not even register on the scale of such things with the world at large, is about a young man I met in BusLand.
When I lived in Las Vegas, I always traveled by bus, which I did not mind at all. It allowed me to meet and make many new friends, and even go to places I otherwise would never have discovered if someone drove me straight to my destination. But “adventure” and discoveries aside, living in BusLand mainly gave me much insight into those who shared my mode of travel. I could tell many stories about my bus-time adventures, from the man who shared a very long ride with me, from one side of Las Vegas clear over to the other side, and after our lengthy conversation, asked me to marry him; to a seatmate who happened to get off at the same stop I did, asked me to join him for coffee, and then told me he was a terrorist. His question to me was why wasn’t I afraid. I felt no danger from him and had enjoyed our in-depth conversation on the bus, so I was willing to continue it for the duration of a cup of coffee. Besides, while he had the outward appearance (characteristics) of actual known terrorists, he did not
give off “terrorist-vibes”; but aside from that, if he were a terrorist, it would be a good thing for him to know that not everyone is terrified by just looking at him and seeing the similarity to those who have been known terrorists. We had our coffee, and all was well.
And that was a “collectible” for me in memory terms. But to get to the one particular memory that goes with me wherever I go and has continued to be part of me all year long, any and every year, is that everything we say and do is heard and experienced by those around us and affects them for better or worse. While I know that I am an ordinarily friendly person, not everyone experiences me (or any of us) in the same way. Since I lived and traveled in BusLand, I would see many of the same people over and over again. While being on a “Good morning!” or “Hello” basis was common, getting to know my
BusLand acquaintances on a much deeper level was not especially common, although, with the several with whom that happened, they were each as different as the chocolates in Forest Gump’s candy box. One
was a single father who needed help with his two daughters; another was a German-speaking man who was trying to learn English, and I became his part-time teacher, but the one I remember the most was a
young Spanish-speaking man who was struggling with the language of his newly adopted country. He was attending English-speaking classes and sought out conversations on the bus to help him speak English more “naturally,” so I enjoyed our bus rides as seatmates, while I helped him refine his speech. I gave him my business card and told him he could continue to get my help as he continued his classroom lessons.
One day I received an email from him that simply said, “Thank you for your friendly.” A few days later — which happened to be just before Christmas — there he was, at my usual bus stop, apparently hiding
something behind his back. As the bus came, it was evident that he was not planning to take it; he handed me the box that he was holding behind his back. It was wrapped, although not in Christmas paper. I
expressed my joy and happiness at this very unexpected surprise, which he humbly and shyly accepted, and then faded away, perhaps on to other things or even back home.
I waited till I was settled in my bus seat before I opened it. I wonder what my readers are thinking about what it was. You will not guess. If one can judge some things from appearances, that young man
very not very well off. (He didn’t even have his own email, “borrowing” one from a friend). Judging from the wrapped package, it
didn’t look like it could be anything of much value. What it contained was a box of red candles, some of which were wilted and misshapen. The box looked like it had been in someone’s closet or kitchen drawer for years, and it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen, based on his love and kindness.
All I did was speak to this young man every time I saw him. And he apparently gave me the best physical gift he had to give, not knowing that I got an everlasting gift from him. And I will forever thank him
for his friendly.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at maramis@lasvegastribune.com.

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