By: Alex Bao
While my childhood was spent in an industrial harbor city, my dad was raised during the onset of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution; I grew up immersed in singing melodies each morning, whereas my dad grew up in the earthy aromas of hay and livestock.
Embracing these differences, my dad has introduced me to diverse experiences, from molding statues out of toilet paper plaster to building greenhouses from the ground up.
In a society that places economic value at the forefront of worth, these assumptions might apply to other individuals, but not to my dad.
When I look at the media, whether it be the cover of a newspaper or a featured story in a website article, I often read of parents who work incredible hours and odd jobs to ensure their children receive a good education. While those stories are certainly worthy of praise, they often overshadow the equally important actions of people like my dad.
I realize now that my dad has sacrificed career and financial pride to ensure that I would get all of the proper attention, care and moral upbringing I need. Through his quiet, selfless actions, my dad has given me more than can be bought from money and redefined my understanding of how we can choose to live our lives.
I’m proud to say that my dad is the richest man I know — rich not in capital, but in character. Infused with the ingenuity to tear down complex problems, luminoused with the vigor of a young entrepreneur and imbued with the kindness to his son to practices and rehearsals. At the end of the day, it’s these traits in people that matter more to me than who they are on paper.
He’s an inspiration, reminding me that optimism, passion and creativity can make a difference in a life as young as mine. It’s those unspoken virtues that define me. I am now always aware that achievement doesn’t have to be measured empirically. It’s that entrepreneurial, self-driven determination to bring ideas to life that drives me. My dad lives life off the beaten path. I, too, hope to bring that unique attitude to other people and communities.
All too often I’m left with the seemingly unanswerable question: “What does my dad do?” But the answer, all too simply, is that he does what he does best: Inspire his son.