A few days ago I finished reading a book that just came out: “Bend, Not Break” by Ping Fu. It is about a woman who grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China, raised herself from the age of eight (as well as her four-year old sister), was later forced to leave China, went on to start a 3D rendering company, Geomagic, and has invented amazing technology that continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
I was fascinated by her story, the perseverance she showed in life, to come from terrible circumstances and educate herself, and go on to create software products that impact the lives of so many. We do not even realize the impact Fu’s products have had on us. She created the software technology that makes Invisalign, can scan a plane to determine what issues it might have, can create replica’s of the Statue of Liberty in case it needs to be rebuilt. The list goes on, and I encourage you to read her book to learn more about Geomagic. I was fascinated.
Her life story has inspired me to realize that we can always do more. With each hurdle in her personal or professional life, she creatively found a way to get through it all. It might not have been the right way from the perspective of those around her, but they were her decisions and choices. I love an idea that Fu shared called “Three Friends of Winter.” It is often found in art in China. She speaks of this idea a few times throughout her book. It was told to her by her Shanghai Papa (more details about him when you read her memoir). This is a stream of a conversation with Fu and Shanghai Papa (I have put all the ideas together to make the conversation shorter):
“There are three friends of winter: the pine tree, the plum blossom, and bamboo. Pine trees are strong. They remain happy and green throughout the year. In the unbearable heat of summer and the severe cold of winter, they stand unperturbed. The crimson petals of the plum blossom gleam brilliantly against the white snow. The ability to bloom in the midst of misfortune suggests dignity and forbearance under harsh circumstances. Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back from even the most difficult times.” page 10
So the pine tree, plum blossom, and bamboo are reminders to us about staying strong, courageous, and resilient. Thank you Fu for sharing your strength and life story.