So!  This is it.  My last post from Taiwan.  In a few hours, I will be entering that nether-region that exists everywhere and nowhere, the airport, and preparing to board a flight back to San Francisco.  My last cup of 11-year old Dong Ding using Taipei water (that’s been filtered..)  Not my last cup of 11-year old Dong Ding, thankfully; that would be a true tragedy.  I’m bringing back a lot of excellent tea.

What to say?  8 months.  Not so long, some have said, but long enough.  Without getting too emotional about it, this strange feeling of astonishment leaping from my throat, that I’m really going back, is only really occurring to me an hour before the taxi comes.

I set out to accomplish certain things here.  I partially did so, but also learned about the transmutability of goals and the trade-offs of such plans versus overall life happiness.  My Chinese has improved a lot.  I drank a lot of great tea.  I learned wing chun.  I met a few great people.  I ate a lot of mochi.  I spent a decent chunk of time walking jungle-mountain paths.  Teaching English kinda sucks, but every once in awhile you get a chance to make a huge difference in some one’s life, just by virtue of being you and being a teacher, regardless of how Mickey Mouse the set-up is.

I feel excited to go back, and be around the people and places I love, eat amazing food, re-join my communities, and delve into the artistic/musical wonderland of bursting self-expression and diversity that is the Bay Area, particularly after spending so much time in a place where so little is going on.  I realized I have little tolerance for homogeneity, and lack of personal vitality.  Living in Taiwan has left me with zero tolerance for mediocrity.  While many things run well here, and there are immensely skilled people dedicated to their craft, a bland hum-drumness pervades the environment here, and often left me feeling lacking, despite my efforts to access many points and persons of interests.  Certainly, it is peaceful, the people are (at least superficially) pleasant, and all that jazz people love to talk about; but then, the buildings pretty much all look like crap, people typically express and act out the same set of opinions, work all day and a big chunk of the night at jobs they don’t particularly like, and are co-erced into living with their parents until they get married.   To quote my dear friend Gwen, “there are many kinds of violence.”  American society is pretty fucked up and third world in some ways, but that’s part of our Yin and Yang, for better or worse.

I do expect I will return to Taiwan, to re-stock up on some of the world’s best tea, visit a few friends, and climb mountains that I have still woefully under-explored.  I figure it’s about time I returned to China at some point, too.  For now I’m going to put my energy into re-experiencing life back in the Bay and attempting to secure a job at an independent school for the fall.  I will continue to write on here.

 

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