If you told me that we could build a store in 10 days, I would have never believed it. With the three of us and the help from our FRIENDS we simply did just that. I'm not so sure how many hours we worked, all I know is when my head hit the pillow at night, I was in a coma.
This whole journey has been my greatest teacher. One of the lessons that I draw from it was the power of hard-work. I really believe deep in my heart, this is one of the secrets for us to evolve to our better self. I texted my sister and said, " I'm so tired lately but I keep on reflecting to our days in the farm back in Fresno... to get me through each day!" Allow me to expand. (I have kept this memory locked away for the last 40 years)
With the grace from above, a Japanese farmer, Mr. Nobu from a tiny farm town in Central California, taught my father how to farm. Being an immigrant “fresh off the boat” in 1975, with no skills and inability to speak English fluently, my father was struggling to find jobs to provide for his family. Seven starving guppies is a lot of food to provide. He was 40 years old.
In a whim on a Sunday morning, my father packed the 7 rug rats in his crappy VW Dasher station wagon. We went for a drive to the country side. We stumbled on a farm where persimmons were blooming. We haven't had it since we left the old country. The family voted. Since I spoke English the best (how funny is that !) I was picked to be the one to ask the owner if we can buy some. I was 12 years old. At this time, I had been in this country less than 8 months. The only English I knew was what I had learned in refugee camp and whatever I was watching on TV. I knocked on the door. A short Asian man opened the door. He had a funny hat on. His hat reminds me of the type that hunters wear in South Africa back in the 40's hunting big game. I think the correct name is pith helmet. He was surprised to see a young skinny boy at his door step. In broken Viet-glish I asked if we can buy some fruit. I had no idea the English word for persimmon. I pointed at the tree and said something like " I buy that ok ?" He seemed even more puzzled when I started to speak. From his porch he can see our red dilapidated station wagon on the drive way. From a far it looks like a sardine can on wheels. There's 8 people cramped inside. Arms and feet were dangling outside every window.
He asked “is that your family?” I replied “yes.”
He walked up to the car and proceeded to meet my father. For the next 10 minutes I was the interpreter. I do not recall the details of the conversation. Mr. Nobu walked back in the house and he came back with a tractor. He gave my father and I a lift to a lot where the trees were ready to be harvested. He gave us 2 buckets and told us to fill it up and come back anytime when we want more.
During this time… he asked, “what does your father do for work?” I replied " he cleans and he cuts grass". I think my father was a janitor and he also maintain the grounds. After we filled our 2 buckets with Fuyu persimmons, Mr. Nobu offered to teach my father how to farm.
I guessed he felt sorry for us. He offered us his land and equipment to use, and he was willing to teach my father how to farm. Within a week, we became farmers.
I remember vividly waking up at 4:30 every morning arriving at the farm by 5:30 before the sunrise and worked until 9pm every day. The summer heat in Fresno is around 100 degrees plus. It was a 7-day work week except on Sunday, the market is closed thus we get to quit as the sun set around 8pm.
All I could think back then was " I can't wait to turn 16 so I can get a regular job and quit this lousy non-paying job!" When I turned 15 and got my first job washing dishes at Zelfred (a shish-kabob restaurant), I still had to work in the farm from 5am until my shift started. I was wrong about quitting the family business.
Little that I know, those experiences imprinted deep in my character. Whatever jobs I had beside a farm laborer was a dream job. I went on had many more crappy jobs, but none was hard as the one I had at the farm.
When I read about entrepreneurs and champions, I see the similar pattern: their work ethic and their relentless mindset. Giving up is never an option and when things get tough they get even tougher.
What does all this mean? What have I learned from all of this?
- Relentless Hard work – There’s no substitution for it. I cannot think of anything else that is more powerful than this. When life gets rough & ugly, we hunker down and keep marching forward. I just remind myself that everything in life is temporary. This dark time will pass. I believe wisdom lives in this space.
- Random act of kindness (the power of Aloha) It can change a person life’s path forever. If it wasn’t for Mr Nobu, I do not think none of the 7 would have finished college and have the life that we currently have. Mr Nobu, later, shared that his family was in “Interment Camp” during WWII. Lesson of compassion begins here.
It has only been a little over a year since Kekoa was born. We have gone through many valleys and many moments of miracles. I am sure there are more to come. We even had a stranger send us a large sum of money anonymously. My hair has more grey than before but I am still here. I guess Malcom Gladwell is right. It takes roughly 10,000 hours to build something great. We have another 7,865 more to go. Much love and thank you for listening and participating in our movement.