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When I was little, I grew up with Only my brother, mom, and dad.
We didn’t celebrate much,
But I remember feeling free
Running around outside topless,
Not realizing how foreign I looked.
Then on a lunar new year, family knocked on our doorsteps.
“Let us bow to the ancestors,
Let us bow to the elders,
Let us bow to our parents,
And to me, to these strangers.”
My little brother would, and they paid him in large bills if 20 and 100.
I cried and refused no matter how much money I saw waved in front of my face.
I was not accustomed to tradition, and customs, and rituals.
It was strange and my ego must have been too scared and too weak.
Many lunar New Years passed and not a single bow from me
my ego became accustomed to refusing and it grew proud.
This same pride kept me silent in church for years because I didn’t want to share prayers,
This same pride kept me silent of pain and suffering for years because I didn’t want to share shame.
Yet ironically, the pain led me to a place where I found myself bowing daily, ritually to the sun, the moon, the earth, and all the higher beings.
The bowing humbled and strengthened my ego,
shed the pride so that each time I find myself bowing,
I think of my grandma, who also loved to run outside topless,
My parents whose wisdom became clear to me,
My ancestors that made me who I am today.
And I stopped feeling foreign.

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