The following was written by Russell Simmons, dad of Ming Lee Simmons, who turns ten today. “Happy Birthday, Ming Lee” written by Russell Simmons:
The yogi’s say life’s whole pursuit is coming to a higher state of consciousness where we attain a state of needing nothing. I know that when we start to throw out our junk and start needing LESS junk- we are heading in the right direction. One of the greatest gifts I can give as a parent is passing on faith in this knowledge so that my children can be free of the disease of always wanting more and come to a place of recognition that we always have everything we need at every moment. I want to share with you something I have come to call, “Ming Lee’s Present To Me” because I am seeing, in small ways, that my children are hearing the messages I’m teaching them. As a father, I could not be more proud.
Ming Lee’s present to me:
I am always amazed by some of the things that come out of my daughters’ mouths.
But I’ve been truly inspired by what I’ve been hearing from Ming Lee lately.
It started last month when Ming Lee and I were in St. Barts doing some Christmas shopping for her sister Aoki. I already had bought the girls gifts but assumed they would want more.
Is there anything that you want me to get you for Christmas? I asked while we were all doing some shopping together.
“No, Daddy. Nothing I can think of,” came the reply.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I really just want to find this book for Aoki.”
As a parent, it was a beautiful moment. Not many pre-teen girls, when told by their fathers that he’ll buy them something, are more interested in finding something to make their sister happy then get something for themselves. I know that some comments may allude to the fact that my daughters have lots of things and don’t desire anything more. However, I discredit that thought because my friends, rich and poor, ALWAYS want more. It’s human nature.
In the end, I bought Ming Lee a beautiful yogic white nightgown with matching tights because I had noticed that the mosquitoes were eating her up after she went to sleep.
“Thanks, Dad,” she said when I gave it to her. “But if it’s not too much, could we get one for Mommy too? I think she’d like it.”
I was thrilled that her first reaction upon getting a gift was to think of someone else, so of course we went back to the store and got one for her mother too.
Ming Lee’s birthday is today and her mother and I are going to have a dinner for her that night in Los Angles. When I called Ming Lee yesterday to see what sort of present she wanted me to bring her, again she told me “nothing.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “Don’t you want another nightgown like the one you got in St. Barts? You seemed to like that.”
“The dress was nice, but no thanks, I really don’t need anything else,” she said. “I just want to make sure that you’re there for my birthday dinner.”
When Ming Lee told me that, I realized that she was beginning to understand one of the most basic truths in life: that true happiness is living in a state of needing nothing.
Which is not to say that Ming Lee won’t ever desire worldly things again. She might not want anything right now, but undoubtedly there will be plenty of clothes and toys and eventually even cars that will seem important to her in the years to come.
But by telling me, “nothing” when I asked her what she needed today, she let me know she understands that none of those toys alone will make her happy. Giving her sister a new book, or a dress to her mother, or having her father next to her on her birthday is what makes her truly happy. Not the toys.
It’s Ming Lee;s birthday today. But letting me know that she doesn’t need toys to be happy, she’s already given ME the greatest gift.