At times my travel memories make me sad. There are places I want to re-visit, new places I’d like to explore, and so many foreign friends who I miss and want to see again. More travel isn’t impossible, but at this point it’s unlikely given the constraints of health and finances. That’s why my correspondence with pen pals and faraway friends is so precious to me. It helps keep me connected with other people. One of my favorite connections is Xiao Song, a young medical student in China.
I have a young Chinese friend, a pen pal who comes from a difficult, impoverished background but is determined to become a doctor. The next step in his career is a postgraduate entrance examination that will determine what medical school he attends, and at times that exam looms over him like a dark cloud. Recently he told me “my dream is very big and it is difficult to realize it” and “I can hardly breathe under such great pressure every day.” He asked me, “Have you ever encountered this problem in your life?”
Have you ever felt that your ambitions were impossibly difficult to achieve? I certainly have, and this is what I wrote to him.