The Echoes of Tomorrow

By Min Zan

Hsu is not a fan of early mornings. Her bed feels especially cosy when the alarm rings, but duty calls. She works at 6 am sharp, leaving her no choice but to rise around 5 am. As she slowly awakens, she can hear her neighbour, U Ba Kyaw, reciting his morning prayers. It seems like he’s finishing up his ritual of paying homage to the Lord Buddha. Hsu listens closely to the words he’s saying, a wish for good things to come his way as a result of his actions.
His words are familiar to her, the same ones he recites every day. He asks for a long life, good health, and protection from all sorts of troubles like sickness and bad luck. Hsu isn’t exactly sure where she stands when it comes to religion. She believes in something, but she’s not sure what exactly. However, watching U Ba Kyaw faithfully recite his prayers every day makes her wonder about the purpose of worship.
Perhaps, she thinks, people pray because they hope it will bring good things into their lives, just like U Ba Kyaw does. They might be seeking protection from harm or wishing for blessings and good fortune. Or maybe prayer is a way for people to find inner peace and comfort, to feel connected to something greater than themselves. As she listens to U Ba Kyaw’s earnest words, Hsu can’t help but ponder these questions.
She finishes getting ready for work, the morning light filtering through her window. As she steps out into the day, she carries with her the lingering thoughts about prayer and its meaning. Maybe, she thinks, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Perhaps it’s not just about asking for things but about finding a sense of purpose and connection in the world. As she heads off to start her day, she resolves to keep pondering these questions, searching for her own answers in the quiet moments of her busy life.
Among Hsu’s circle of friends are Christians and Muslims. Hsu, curious about their religious practices, asked them if they also make wishes according to their faiths. Their responses were affirmative, indicating that they indeed engage in this practice. However, when Hsu probed further and asked them why they made these wishes, they struggled to provide her with satisfactory answers. Their responses were vague, leaving Hsu feeling puzzled and intrigued.
Hsu has her own beliefs about the fundamental needs of human beings: food, clothing, and shelter. She has observed that those who regularly engage in making wishes do not lack these basic necessities. For instance, U Ba Kyaw, her neighbour who faithfully recites prayers every morning, is a successful trader who owns three cargo ships. Similarly, Hsu’s affluent friends come from wealthy families and have completed their education without needing to worry about earning a living or assisting their parents in their businesses.
In today’s highly competitive world, merely fulfilling the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter may not be enough to keep up with the demands of the era. Hsu wonders whether human beings are inherently driven by greed, always wanting more than what they already possess. This thought prompts her to consider whether the endless pursuit of material wealth truly leads to happiness or if there are other, more meaningful sources of fulfilment.
Furthermore, in a society where goods and services are constantly being improved and upgraded, the desire for newer, higher-quality products becomes increasingly prevalent. That creates a cycle where individuals feel the need to accumulate more wealth in order to maintain an updated standard of living. Hsu reflects on this cycle and questions whether it is sustainable or if it only serves to perpetuate feelings of dissatisfaction and inadequacy.
As she goes about her day, these thoughts continue to occupy her mind. She begins to ponder the true meaning of happiness and fulfilment. Is it found in the accumulation of material possessions, or is it derived from simpler, more meaningful sources? Hsu considers the importance of cultivating gratitude, contentment, and meaningful relationships in her life rather than constantly chasing after wealth and material goods.
Ultimately, Hsu realizes that true happiness cannot be found in the relentless pursuit of material wealth. Instead, it lies in appreciating the simple joys of life, such as spending time with loved ones, pursuing passions and interests, and making meaningful contributions to the world. With this newfound perspective, Hsu resolves to focus on cultivating these sources of happiness and fulfilment in her own life rather than being consumed by the pursuit of wealth and material possessions.
Money is a limited resource, and acquiring it is not easy. No matter how much effort one puts into earning money, it’s often not as much as one had hoped for. Therefore, people seek reliability in something else. For many, this reliability comes from their faith or the supreme figure within their faith whom they believe in and turn to for guidance. It is to this figure that they address their wishes and prayers.
Hsu considers the idea that it would be beneficial if wishes were as limited as money. She believes that it’s even better to continually improve one’s own abilities through hard work and determination. She sees this approach as practical and sensible because she views praying or making wishes as a form of begging. In her view, those who strive to enhance their skills and capabilities can reduce their reliance on others for assistance.
As she prepares to get out of bed, Hsu recalls a line written by Martin Luther shortly before his death. It was found on a piece of paper with his handwriting discovered in his pocket. Among the words written on the paper were these: “This is true. We are all beggars.”
This line resonates with Hsu, prompting her to reflect on its meaning. She interprets it as a reminder that regardless of one’s status or accomplishments, everyone is ultimately dependent on others in some way. It’s a humbling realization that reinforces the importance of humility and recognizing one’s own limitations.
As she starts her day, Hsu carries this thought with her, reminding herself to approach life with humility and gratitude. She acknowledges the interconnectedness of humanity and the importance of supporting each other in times of need. With this perspective, she feels inspired to continue striving for personal growth while also extending a helping hand to those around her who may be in need.
As Hsu navigates through her daily routine, she finds herself contemplating the significance of prayer, faith, and the pursuit of material wealth. Her encounters with her neighbour U Ba Kyaw and discussions with her friends about their religious practices prompt her to delve deeper into these profound questions. She wonders about the purpose of prayer and whether it serves as a pathway to attain blessings, inner peace, or connection to something greater. Additionally, she reflects on the correlation between wealth and happiness, pondering whether the relentless pursuit of material possessions truly leads to fulfilment. These contemplations lead her to question societal norms and reevaluate her own values and priorities.
As Hsu begins her day with these thoughts swirling in her mind, she grapples with the idea that perhaps true happiness lies not in the accumulation of wealth but in simpler, more meaningful aspects of life. She considers the importance of personal growth, gratitude, and genuine connections with others. Furthermore, she ponders the concept of reliance on faith or personal abilities versus the pursuit of external validation or assistance.
In brief, Hsu’s journey of contemplation leads her to a profound realization about the nature of happiness and fulfilment. Through her observations and introspection, she recognizes that true contentment cannot be found in the pursuit of material wealth alone. Instead, it is cultivated through meaningful relationships, personal growth, and a sense of gratitude for life’s simple joys. Hsu resolves to prioritize these aspects of life over the endless pursuit of wealth and material possessions, embracing humility and interconnectedness along the way. In doing so, she embarks on a path toward a more fulfilling and purposeful existence, guided by her newfound insights and values.


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