Day 94 Question 94:
Where is the luck in your life?
This is an odd question I know. I think sometimes we tend to lose ourselves (some more than others) and we forget all about the many many many wonderful things in our lives. I have been thinking about this a lot lately for different reasons. Not every day of life is full of unicorns and butterflies but there is always the potential for good. There is always opportunity to see the beauty that lies in the world around you…even in the hardest of times.
The reason I started thinking about this topic is because there is a woman I work with (I have discussed her in a previous blog) and she is a Debbie Downer. Nothing in life is ever good enough and according to her she has never ever had a good day. I worked with her last night and from the moment I walked in until we parted ways at the end of the night it was one complaint after another…and of course nothing was her fault. The world is just a terrible place according to her and everyone is just out to get her. As annoying as this is every time I work with her, it hit me last night, how lucky I really am. Life is going to throw curveballs but I am still able to see so much of the good and that is where I put my main focus. I am actually uncomfortable when I feel like I whine and bitch too much. I believe that sort of toxicity can ruin the mood for an entire group of people. I would not want to be responsible for bringing other people’s moods down. That is just selfish.
As I have stated and will state in many of my entries, I do not claim to be “perfect”. I am not even close to being perfect. I just speak about things that I think are important because day to day society can become chaotic and I think we all just need to take a step back and look at all that we have. The girl I work with has a daughter that loves her, she has a job, she has friends, she has a husband (although she doesn’t love him…she told me last night…he loves her…even through all of the abuse she takes from him), she lives less than 1 mile from the beach. I know it is her life and probably none of my business but I wish so much she could see all of these amazing things in her life instead of bitching about ailment after ailment after ailment and how her husband has done something wrong yet again. She really has no idea what true hardship is…at least that is my opinion. Women in other countries are being killed daily just because of their gender. Young girls in different parts of the world are being sold into sex-slavery and are having their virginity violently taken from them by men that are triple their age. There are people all over the world that have no idea where they are going to sleep tonight or how they are going to feed their children…not all of these people are trying to better their lives but a lot are and a lot have just been dealt a bad hand. I have worked with teenage mothers that although they have barely two nickels to rub together they feel blessed because of having a family. The one simple thing called family made them feel that the world was a tolerable place.
I go through these phases in life where I focus on different subjects/topics. I like to try to keep my mind sharp and I have this never-ending curiosity. As of lately I have thrown myself into reading about the happenings in other countries. When I started doing researched was when I realized how LUCKY I truly am. I find it ignorant to take life for granted because I have a life that is a billion times better than so many others in this big world….and when I say better I am not implying I am better but my circumstances and my living situation is so much more acceptable and actually incredible in comparison to what so many others have to endure. Also, do not get me wrong, I am not saying that the girl at the restaurant does not have her share of problems…my irritation comes from her ignorance. I believe that if you are going to complain about one ailment after another and talk about how financially unstable you are then you probably should not be at the bar drinking heavily and smoking cigarettes 4-5 days a week (if not more). In my opinion, you are a walking contradiction. I feel lucky to have a better head on my shoulders and to be able to see my own faults and do everything to fix them whenever I can.
I feel lucky to have an extremely loving family that has taught me the importance of kindness and seeing the good over the bad as much as possible. I feel lucky to be educated and to have the desire to learn and learn and learn some more…until my last breath. I feel lucky to have experienced so much culture and diversity in my 33 years of life. I feel lucky to have had people in my life that have helped me through the roughest of times. I feel lucky to have so much laughter in my life. I feel lucky to have scenic views almost everywhere I go and to have an appreciation for nature. I could go on and on.
What really stirred this entry was something I was watching before the little porkchops that I watch woke up this morning. There was an E Investigates story on television and it was about a family that went mysteriously missing. The story itself was interesting but what kept peaking my interest was the host. The host was Laura Ling (Lisa Ling’s sister). This was the same woman/journalist that was that was captured and thrown in jail in North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. For several months Laura Ling and a fellow journalist were help in a North Korea prison under conditions that must have been unimaginable. The two women probably ate very little and spent majority of their days in pain from the labor they had to do or just filthy from the lack of water and personal cleaning supplies. The two reporters wandered into North Korea for a news story and were almost immediately captured. Their intentions were to harm no one. I can only imagine how terrifying this experience must have been for these two women…both physically and mentally. The point I am trying to make is that Laura Ling endured this terrifying experience and came back stronger than ever after she returned to the United States. She continued her passions in journalism and she was not going to let this experience take control of her life. She returned feeling lucky to be alive and lucky to be able to be reunited with her family. Through something so scary she still moved forward. I wanted to share an article I found (if you are not very familiar with the story).
So tell me, where is there luck in your life?
Ling Sisters Recount Laura’s Capture In North Korea
On March 17, 2009, journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling were apprehended by North Korean soldiers while filming a documentary along the China-North Korea border. The two women were charged with illegal entry for crossing into North Korea — and after several months of interrogation by North Korean officials, sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in one of North Korea’s prison camps.
After finding out that Laura had been arrested in North Korea, Lisa Ling — Laura’s sister and a special correspondent on The Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN — started calling every diplomatic official she knew. She also contacted other journalists to publicize Laura’s ordeal. For several weeks, Lisa appeared on national media outlets alongside other family members as part of a campaign to bring the two journalists home.
In an interview with Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies, the sisters describe their dual experiences with Laura’s detention and release. They detail their infrequent phone conversations, in which Laura was able to tell Lisa that the only way she and Euna would be released was if a special envoy — former President Bill Clinton — traveled to Pyongyang to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Clinton made the trip in August 2009, after Laura and Euna had spent 140 days in captivity, and helped secure their release.
On the story Laura Ling and Euna Lee were looking for at the China-North Korea border
Laura Ling: “We were covering a story about North Korean defectors, people who are fleeing the very desperate conditions in North Korea — mass starvation, a brutal dictatorship — and they’re crossing over into China. Now many of these defectors are women, and many of these women are trafficked into really horrendous situations in neighboring China. They are forced into marriages. They are lured into the prostitution industry. And because China does not regard North Korean defectors as refugees … they will send them back across the border to North Korea if they are caught. And that means that these people face certain punishment. They will be sent to North Korea’s notorious labor camps and possibly face torture or worse. That’s the story I was trying to bring to light for Current TV.”
On the local guide they hired to take them to the border
Laura Ling: “Foreign journalists who are working overseas often hire what we call fixers — local guides in the area who have worked with other media entities before to help them with the story. And this is a man we had hired who had previously seemed very cautious. And there were some actions that were in retrospect very suspicious. … We went to the river to film the thoroughfare where North Koreans are crossing into China. It was never our intention when we were there that morning to cross the [Tumen] River [that separates China and North Korea]. And our guide began making some low hooting noises across the border. … Now previously, our guide had told us that he had connections in North Korea. Our guide was involved in smuggling goods himself. And so, in my mind, I thought he was trying to make a connection with some of the border guards that he knew. He said in the past that he had taken some media to actually converse with some of these border guards on the other side. And he continued to walk closer to the North Korean side of the river and he got to the other side, stepped foot on the soil and motioned for us to follow him, which we did. We ended up on the other side of the border, and he pointed out safe houses where defectors are kept until they’re ready to be smuggled across the border. And really, it was about that time — we were not on the soil for more than a minute — when we knew we had to leave. And that’s when we turned back and walked back across the ice to the Chinese side.”
On what they initially told their captors
Laura Ling: “When we were initially caught, Euna had told our captors that we were students, that we were working on a documentary and were working on the piece about the border region and trade in the region. We knew that the subject we were covering — North Koreans fleeing these horrible conditions in their country — was not going to be looked upon well by our captors. And so we were hoping, while we were still on the border, that we might be able to convince them to send us back across the border to China. And that became very clear, after about 24 hours, that that was not going to happen.”
On Lisa’s reaction when she found out Laura had been detained
Lisa Ling: “I got a call at 2:30 in the morning on March 17 from my brother-in-law, Laura’s husband, Ian. And he said, ‘Laura has been abducted by North Korean border guards.’ And that just sent a complete shock through my system because Laura — there was never any intention to go anywhere near North Korea. Their assignment was to go to China and South Korea, so we were shocked. I knew the story they were covering, but I didn’t think they were going to get close to North Korea. So Ian and I immediately — I had Ian call our parents because we needed our mother to make contact with Chinese authorities in China, and she’s proficient in Mandarin — and I just started calling everyone in the diplomatic world that I knew. One of my first calls was to Richard Holbrooke, who was the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and the most senior diplomat I know. And I wanted to get word to Secretary of State Clinton that this was happening. And one of the first calls we also made was to the chairman of Current TV, Laura’s employer, [former] Vice President Al Gore. Because we felt like, if this was going to become the international incident that we thought it could, we needed Vice President Gore to help us.”
On Laura’s reaction when she was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor
Laura Ling: “I had tried to prepare myself for a lengthy sentence but nothing could prepare me for the verdict, when I heard the words ’12 years.’ And it was after the judge said ’12 years,’ he said, ‘No forgiveness, no appeal.’ And that really cut into me, because all along I had been hoping that there might be the opportunity for an appeal despite the long sentence. And I was wondering if those words meant that the window of opportunity had closed and my fate was sealed.”
On former President Clinton’s arrival in North Korea
Lisa Ling: “We’re so used to seeing a jovial character, and when he descended off that plane, just to see that completely deadpan expression on his face was so out of the ordinary.”
Laura Ling: “And he later said that he, in fact, had to practice [his stoicism]. That Hillary and Chelsea had to coach him so that he could maintain that look of total stoicism. We also learned that there was a whole itinerary that the North Koreans wanted [President] Clinton and his team to attend, visits to various monuments — a whole stadium filled with child acrobatic performers. And they had to be careful to walk that line and not attend any of those events so as not to seem like they were being chummy with the North Koreans or the North Korean leader. … And I think they walked that line very well. They stuck to the mission at hand, which was to bring us home.”
Lisa Ling: “No money was exchanged and no diplomacy was conducted. It truly was a private humanitarian mission.”