Fanning the Spark of Possibility

On September 12th, 2005 I found my voice. It lain dormant within me for fifteen years, then began simmering slowly, and finally came to an exhilarating boil. The words coming out of the anchorwoman’s mouth lifted my soul, so that from the inside I was peeled out of the moment, “…Hurricane Katrina…” My mind was penetrated by every pixel of the screen with a stinging intensity; my body escaped from homeostasis and I no longer felt comfortable just sitting on my couch complacently and passively watching. For an entire month I had observed the catastrophic affects of Hurricane Katrina on the people of Louisiana, and in that compelling moment, I decided that it was time—time for me to do something. The full moon caught my eye and reminded me that the Autumn Moon Festival was being held over the weekend in the lively streets of Chinatown in San Francisco. A great conglomeration of people would be there celebrating, a perfect chance for me to fundraise for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. My mind was set—tomorrow morning I was going to take public transportation alone for the first time to Chinatown. Accompanied by both fear and excitement, I walked briskly off the train in my white suit with an empty box and a heart full of conviction. Naively taking the wrong connecting Muni bus, I ended up on the extensive Embarcadero—about a mile from Chinatown and the Autumn Moon Festival. Worry and apprehension nipped at my mind, but with some general sense of direction and a bit of luck, I found Grant Street and followed it all the way up to bustling Chinatown. Standing in the center of the vast street peppered with a variety of booths promoting their businesses, I called out to the people passing by and asked that they contribute to my big empty box, fulfilling their social responsibility by providing crucial aid to the people of Louisiana. I found myself shouting futilely over Sing Tao Radio’s boisterous announcements. After an hour of fruitless labor, I decided that I needed to change my strategy. I walked into Sing Tao Radio’s tent. After passionately explaining that I was fundraising for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, I was handed the instrument of power I needed—the microphone. The next instant, my sonorous voice boomed and the entire street quieted down, staring at my neglected empty box and me. In Mandarin, I explained that conditions in Louisiana were desperate—that the people of Louisiana really needed our help. I asked the newly formed crowd to reach into the depths of their hearts, their consciences, and their pockets to make a donation. At once, the convinced crowd surged toward me, and the barren box I had was impregnated with money. With such an outstanding response, I knew I was on the right path, but I was not nearly close to finished: this was merely the zygote. I negotiated with the DJ from Sing Tao Radio to borrow their microphone every fifteen minutes to make a similar announcement to the passing crowd. Each announcement drew a cascade of people, and after a few hours, my empty box embraced approximately $7,500. Near the end of my series of brief speeches, a reporter for Sing Tao Newspaper approached me and took pictures of me while I was speaking. He informed me that a CEO of an accounting company had heard my resonating speech and felt inspired to donate $5,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and wanted me to personally receive the check. The reporter asked me if I was willing to accept. I was in awe. My voice had been acknowledged, and my efforts had succeeded, influencing a raw, selfless, virtuous cycle of giving. A tingling sensation ran up my spine and a huge smile shined across my face as I accepted the miraculous offer. On the train ride home, I gazed through my window at the beautiful harvest moon that for centuries had guided people who had been disoriented in the dark. Thoughts raced through my mind and finally the events of the day became tangible. I had done it! I had raised $12,500 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and it was all because I had chosen to speak my mind. I fanned the spark of possibility and it blazed, transforming into a flame of reality. An extraordinary swelling filled my chest, and I knew that I had found my voice and it would prevail with me for the adventures to come.

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