Today, my friend asked me if I’d rather cry inside a limo or smile on the back of the bicycle. I secretly think she was betting that I wouldn’t understand this statement since she said it in chinese and she knows-as everyone does – how I’m hopeless in that language. I understood (haha got ya!). Ok fine, I admit that I wouldn’t have understood it if my mom hadn’t asked me the very same question years back. Of course, she was kind enough to explain this statement in great detail – you know how moms are.
Literal meanings aside, what this statement means is that would you rather be happy and poor or sad and rich? Basically, this is the classic example of “money can’t buy you happiness”. If you answer that you’d rather smile on the back of the bicycle, it means that you’d rather be happy. People who choose the other option value money above everything.
My friend proceeded to ask my other friend (who is not asian) the same question. My other friend looked bewildered and responded: “Why can’t I smile on a limo?” We laughed because she didn’t get it.
For me, if I say that happiness takes precedence over everything else, I’d be lying. But smiling doesn’t necessarily have to mirror happiness. I smile because I know I will be happy. My dad always tells me if I surrender to the lure of what he calls “happiness” now, I’ll regret it in the long run. I think he alludes the state of happiness to the state of contentment. And I agree. Strangely enough, that is the general accepted meaning of happy. Of course, nobody says it out loud. There are just some things in the world that are true but to maintain a positive moral outlook, hardly anyone admits it.
So later on, I ask my mom the same question. She laughs because she remembers that she asked me the same thing years back. I pressed her for an answer. Then, a serious look crosses her face. She said:
When I was your age, my answer would be that I would smile no matter the mode of transportation I took. But now that I think about, what use is smiling if you’re not happy in the end. I chose to smile on the back of the bicycle and now, I can’t seem to smile. That’s why, if I reevaluate if I predicted that one day I would have you – I would have chosen the limo.
It’s touching that she loves me so much that her first priority would be my happiness and future. But then she told me that I have to smile no matter what. So I will choose the bicycle like she did but she trusts me to make smart decisions and end up happy in the end. I hope I won’t disappoint.