Miles from Home

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

More Steps to Go

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It is interesting being back on a university campus.  A tacit border between this time and those to come rings campus.  Life pauses, providing a moratorium on decisions and doubts.

In this, there is clarity.  And in this, there is time to consider the environment and the manner in which one lives his life.  When I was younger, admittedly, I took this opportunity for granted.  In place of overachieving in school, I etched great friendships and personal experiences.  Those, I would never relinquish.

Here again, I am offered a new lens, a post-lasik moment of self-observation.  And here is what I have come to see:

I love living abroad.  Though I often loathe the stress it puts on family and relationships, living in a faraway land enables the temporality of time to evince itself.  This sensation normalizes the fleeting cracks in time we all share, allowing, for those who harness it, short moments to become more meaningful.  People are more honest.  People are more open.  Character is worn on the sleeve, and for those who try hiding their tricks, sleeves are not long enough.

There are the triumphs of monotonous daily activities.  Simple tasks become complicated.  One is forced to find circular solutions to previously straightforward problems.  Communication is essential; it is invigorating.  Each day my Chinese grows better, and each day I am more fulfilled by the interactions I share with this country.

There are also the hard lessons to learn.  The dirty truths behind the facade.  Development is a sloppy game.  Players cheat.  Pawns suffer.  The playing field is uneven.  Yet, in all of this, there are lessons and there is hope.  There is inspiration.

All of this has helped me become who I am, in the present.  Perhaps, when I return to the U.S. for the holidays, folks will find alterations from my previous form.  I have taken steps to move closer to whom it is I want to become and the legacy I choose to leave behind.  My conceptions of friendship, nationalism, identity, justice, responsibility, and personal impact have all shifted, grown, and found new meaning.

My process is incomplete, obviously, as all of ours never find distinction until that terminal moment.  My odyssey, my fleeting moments of youth– those I often agonize over, feeling wasteful, feeling distant– deep down I know are being well spent.  I am about to embark on another epic trip, visit many new countries, share new conversations, bring back new stories.  I find these steps to fit my ascent.  After these, it will be those leading to grad school.  Where?  Not sure.  Yet, I know there is more I must learn from an academic standpoint to further my impact on the realities of these communities I have come to care for deeply.

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Written by Miles

December 4, 2007 at 9:10 am

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