Miles from Home

China Commentary– Youthful Musings on the Environment, Culture & Development

The Beat of the Drums from Home

with one comment

A good friend of mine, whom I met while studying in South Africa, wrote this to me a few days ago. He and I both recently graduated from different, major universities in the U.S. He has lived all over the world, growing up as a military brat, and has now found himself a “home.” After graduating from college, he is as so many of us are: adrift in a new personal era.

SEPT. 21-

Miles,

It’s been a while but I don’t think it’s out of place. I looked at your
picture album and couldn’t wrap my mind around the life you’re living.

I’m sitting in a cubicle, looking over my shoulder every five minutes or
so to see if the boss is watching what I’m doing. I sit here for eight
hours a day but there is never enough work to fill my day. I’ve
become a voracious reader of political and music blogs and an amazing
pen pal. Casey, Jordan (both from south Africa) and I might as well be
sitting in the same office, five cubicles down as we’ve developed this
technocratic relationship over fiber-optic cables and keyboard
strokes. The job, when I am working as a reporter is great. I feel
part of the community and I feel as though I am doing a service for
that community. It keeps me interested and happy, both intellectually
and emotionally. I don’t have a uniform, but may as well–dress pants
and collared shirts populate my closet and seem to copulate, giving
birth to an array of monochromatic colors of the same style–yellow,
the most recent addition to the closet family. I have become an
amateur-pro at the Domestic Olympics–ironing and cooking probably my
bests events, mopping and dusting probably my weakest.

Friends are the hardest to meet when they don’t want to meet you. The
pool of potentials are harder to find without a classroom. It’s a slow
moving process, where it must be proven you’re not only on the same
level, but beyond that level, a desired friend. More than
one-in-the-same because it that’s the case, you’re just not worth the time getting to know.

Women are much easier to capture. They seek a male and are easily
engaged but, in D*, rarely are worth the time. Most are married
anyway, the others have kids or are just not on the same intellectual
level (i.e. college graduate) and I realized very quickly that is
important.

But, it pays the bills and for the first time I am truly independent,
which was the ultimate goal four months ago. I put up with the chores
because it is what needs to be done in order for that, sort of,
transcendence. All trepidations are temporary, necessary and part of
the game. And it’s an interesting game–winnable with focused
ambition.

It’s easy to get bogged down, which is why I have paid particular
attention to keeping a strong healthy mind, body and spirit. Reading
blogs, books, magazines in large quantities. Training to be a distance
runner–right now I’m running four miles a day four days a week. And
staying happy with a variety of good music, movies and television
shows (I’ve finally embraced my love for hip hop, which you instilled
two Christmases ago by showing me art and mastery in lyricists like
Jay Z, Black Thought and Talib Kweli, who I saw in May, it was fucking
great). The new T.I. album is great, watching a lot of foreign films,
Bergman and Kurosawa mostly and Weeds, Entourage and Lost keep my
dinner time enjoyable.

What I’m getting at is that I’ve decided life is an equilibrium
experiment and right now I’m still trying to reach equilibrium–that
is the new goal.

But what about you? You have surely had a different experience. One
with excesses of stimulation as opposed to my over-hyped trek after
graduation. What are the people like? What are the women like? What is
the political environment like? What is the plan for the next few
years ahead? How is it as a teacher teaching English? How do you
reconcile being part of the colonialism and the globalization
processes that you balk at in your photo album?

Peace in the Far East
b

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Written by Miles

September 22, 2006 at 12:01 pm

One Response

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  1. b,
    I too am sitting in a cubicle. However, my day lasts for 14 hours instead of 8, and I have too much to do at work instead of not enough. My life in some ways is very much like yours. I’ve recently made the transition from college to the real world, I wage a constant battle against the forces of chaos that dirty my clothes and my apartment, and I too am a distance runner. However, my life is also very different than yours. I am not in pursuit of equilibrium in the sense that I try to balance work with friends and movies and good music. Instead, I live a life of extremism. I’m at the office until I can’t think anymore and my eyes burn from staring at the keyboard. At 8 or 9 at night I go to the park and run. Then I go home eat dinner and pass out, only to get up at 5:30 and do it again the next day. I eat at least two and sometimes three meals at my desk. I work for at least a handful of hours on the weekend. I wait to go to bed so I can see how stocks are trading in India and Thailand and Hong Kong. I have chosen to give up any sense of balance for the time being in the hope that I make a lot of money and can have an imbalanced life focused on long runs, long talks, and long meals a couple years from now. There are certainly large positives and large negatives to my life now. I like the fact that I am constantly stimulated. I analyze new companies in new markets every day. I have amassed a great deal of knowledge of alternative energy, fertilizers and chemicals, cement, retailers, and restaurants. I know those things probably sound dull, but they force me to know about what’s going on around the world every day on a spectacular granular level. As a self proclaimed academic, I like that. I have learned more in a year working at a hedge fund than I did in four at college (and don’t get me wrong, I learned a shitload at school). I also like feeling responsible. I’m entrusted with making decisions about large sums of money and then I am held accountable for the outcome of those decisions whether they are positive or negative, I like that a lot, and like B, I like feeling independent. I drive a nice car, live in a nice apartment, and, on occasion, go out for a nice meal all on my own buck which feels wonderful. On the other hand, I don’t like feeling tired constantly, feeling like I have no time for myself or my girlfriend, and having constant anxiety about events and market reactions that are completely out of my control. I also don’t like the amorality of my work. I contribute money to companies with high moral values as easily as I contribute to those that are morally reprehensible. I don’t like that, I find it makes me cold as my heart becomes buried deeper in my chest. As I said, I hope to not be here forever, but as long as I am here, my only goal is to be the best at what I do. So, b and my friend Miles, I salute each of you in your current life endeavors. I get the feeling that we are all seeking the same thing but that we are taking radically different approaches in our quest for it.

    Miles – I like your site and hope your blog prospers as I spend my days viewing the world through a computer screen and a center for the conveyance of experience and wisdom that can be accessed through my portal is very exciting.

    Pace,
    Bianj

    Bianj

    September 26, 2006 at 7:34 pm


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