Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"四海一家" (One World)

I post blog entries regularly. I post one entry per week every week in "An East Coast Girl In The Far East". ( ok, we all know the truth and that's not quite the truth..... yet.)

I'm trying to put it in the positive here rather than using words like " I should" or " I need to". To make it more like it is the current reality.

However, judging by the date on my last public entry here, we know that the past reality was in fact July 31st. I think my new job working Mon-Fri has taken the bulk of my time and energy from here - especially commuting into the city 90 minutes everyday.

So, I will write a future entry about "extended home visits" and the perils and perks of them. But I don't know if that's the direction in which this writing is going tonight. We'll see.

Although New York is so diverse - for example the current neighborhood that I work in, in Brooklyn is pretty much evenly divided- (slightly more Hassidic if any)- into a huge Hassidic Jewish, Guangdong/Cantonese Chinese, and West Indian ( Trinidad, Haiti, etc) population. I am missing Asia. I'm missing Taipei. Missing Taiwan. I feel like it's where I am supposed to be at this point in my life. I feel like I've stayed in NY a little too long now. I'm ready to go back ( just not quiiiite financially ready- I want to bring a bigger "nest egg" with me).

I love my friends in NY ( and there still a few I have to see)- and I'm so grateful for this trip especially for meeting up with the friends who I hadn't seen in two years. I'm so grateful to have had quality time with my extended family - beautiful days on the beach, go-kart racing, making English trifle with my Aunt Joan. For new babies - (both animal babies and humans). It's been a little.... rough/stressful at times being 4 people under the same roof again at Mom and Dad's (But 4 is an unlucky number in Chinese after all, it means "death") but that's for another entry.

I get asked in BOTH directions from Taiwan and from New York "How long are you staying?", "When are you coming back?" ( "No, I mean like REALLY back" - I remember my cousin adding once, just to clarify). To sum it up: I don't think it's your burden or responsibility to have an answer. I think every person has their own intrinsic gut feeling of when "it's right" to move. I also think we don't know- we can't predict it rationally. I am saying now, as my blanket statement, to give myself a picture and to pacify the masses - that I plan on being in Taiwan for the next 3 years and then I will re-evaluate my living/working situation and decide where I will be for the next 3 years after that. (During these 3 yrs I will take 2 week long trips home at the most. Nothing longer than that. Hopefully this absence will give my parents the incentive to come VISIT ME in Taipei! - I'm already writing up our itinerary :p)

I would LOVE to bring someone to Taiwan- to live with me. To have a partner, a wife who is just like "Yup, let's go!" To travel, to live abroad as a couple ( or even as a family - adding kids is a blessing I think- to see how easily they adapt. I loved watching my TA's daughter in China two years ago. The family was from Uzbekistan and the daughter was 3 yrs old and her brain was working to learn Uzbek, English, and Chinese. She definitely mastered the Chinese "bu yao!" early on.) Kids are little sponges. I was speaking Chinese to my friend's 4 1/2 yr old daughter here one day and she made me melt-so adorable- just the way she was watching me so intently and could perfectly imitate the words and tones.)

I hope that happens. That's the one thing that would keep me in New York- a partner and kids. But I guess if I want to be "An East Coast Girl In The Far East" it's a good thing that I'm single for now. Meeting someone over there is very possible ... but I don't know, I can't predict.

I'm glad that I was so easily able to get back with my old company and find a job in NYC. But just "being in a relationship" or "having a big, fancy house" doesn't make you happy. It's the specific person that you're with. It's the people who enjoy the house and make memories in it with you. Yes, I "have a job" right now ( and I'm grateful!) but I feel like there are more quality experiences waiting for me in Taiwan at this point.

I don't have any tattoos - yet. But I recently saw a phrase in Traditional Chinese that  I would consider on my wrist maybe.  "四海一家"  ("Si Hai Yi Jia"- literal meaning "four seas, one home" or "One World"). We are all family. You can find a home ( and miss people) no matter what their language, race, religion, flag, political beliefs,  ... may be.

Taking a step out of your "home" country is a good wake up call. A healthy dose of perspective. Feeding your soul and exploring your own unique curiosities and questions is worth a million times more than feeding your fear with doubts and never knowing WHAT could be. "Don't you want to support our country???" - was one question that I got from my mother recently - a real "throwaway" comment in a little argument that we were having. If anyone says this to you, I'd say- the US is a nation built on immigrants. People constantly leaving "customs and cultures" of "the old country" to find a "better life" somewhere else. My own grandparents left Ireland for the US. It doesn't mean that it's forever. But if you get the chance, take it. Anxiety and nervousness only feed fear and make you stand still. They weigh down your mind. Optimism and hope give you an open mind, options, the ability to see more sides of a situation.

"JUMP And The Net Will Appear" - is a phrase from improv. It was the name of a workshop that, I think, Rachel Hamilton, ran at The Magnet in NYC - years ago now- back in 2005. I think it's a really appropriate phrase to think about when you're considering traveling or making ANY big decision .... know that you WILL be supported. Trust that the universe will provide a "net" in the form of new friends, new work colleagues, a place to live, etc. etc... wherever you land.

We really are one family. Political parties and governments and nations will often use their nationalism to separate hearts and minds. But we all want the basics - food/water/shelter/health/love/affection and also things like the potential to grow, the freedom to move, new experiences, maybe some healthy competition/tests - to strengthen skills, recognition for our work/efforts, the freedom to speak against perceived injustice, etc. Money is far too often involved in the decisions of "our leaders". It's not a "Republican" or "Democrat" thing either. It's not "puppy love" regarding me and President Obama anymore. His "Asia Pivot" and the way that he and all future US leaders treat Taiwan .... will prove if the US is really about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and "liberty and justice for all" and "freedom... etc, etc. " It's the smallest island country in Asia but there's a lot riding on Taiwan's self- rule and increased international presence. If the US leaders develop "guanxi" with other countries *coughCHINAcough*  and worry more about their debt/$$  with "big brother" in the neighborhood- that throws all of the rhetoric about the US truly supporting  "FREEDOM" and "SELF-DETERMINATION" of a country- like Taiwan- out the window. The US can hide it in the Middle East - (blame religious extremists, blame inequality- lack of women's rights, etc for going in and "saving" the Middle East.) but you cannot not hide any ulterior motives ( their China debt/money, oil, ocean access, etc.) in Asia, especially with regard to Taiwan (Taiwan is *already* a -young but thriving- *democracy*. Thrusting free people into the hands of communists would not reflect the " good image" and/or "past rationalizations" of the US.) Self-Determination - for each country and person, is important.

Regarding returning to Taipei - for this next trip ( thinking it will be the first week in November), I have decided to take Eva Air. http://www.evaair.com . They are a Taiwanese airline that provides NON-STOP flights from JFK/New York to Taipei. The hours are a little..... different than what I'm used to. But we'll see how that works out. It's a science experiment. Maybe my jet-lag time will be reduced leaving at 1am NY time and arriving at 5am Taiwan time? We'll see. I'm excited and curious (as usual).

Another quick little tidbit regarding Taiwan. As luck would have it, this week is "Taiwan Week" in New York City! So, if you are experiencing any "reverse culture shock" or feeling like you would like to learn more about Taiwan, there are several events that you can check out if you are in New York this week. This is the Facebook page for the events https://www.facebook.com/events/528492097224586/ . It is sponsored by "Keep Taiwan Free". http://keeptaiwanfree.org/ If you can come, come! Saturday is the march and rally outside of the United Nations - to seek to add Taiwan as a participating country/nation in the UN.

With the dawn of another 9/11 coming in the next few hours here - 12 years ago now. It's important to remember that we all have loved ones that mean the world to us- all over. We ARE one world, one family. I lost my cousin Kristy Irvine Ryan on that day. She worked in the South Tower- the second one to be hit. She was way up on the 103 floor working for Sandler, O'Neill, and Partners. She was 30 at the time. There were about 9 yrs between us. She was able to talk on the phone with both my uncle- her dad, and Brendan before the plane hit. It was just such a hard time. I was in college in Boston then, but I ACHED to be in New York. I can't describe the feeling. It was similar to, but MORE than a homesickness/ other-country culture shock. I was 21- so there was a lot of drinking- masked in "being a college kid" to numb the pain/feeling of isolation I think. I feel like- post 9/11- I had a lot of time to explore NYC and make some wonderful friends and create many fun, good memories living down there. I thank Kristy for that. I know she was there, putting people and experiences in my path - just like she continues to do. I remember her as someone with a good sense of humor- Funny but very centered-  Cool. Calm. Collected. Definitely a "city girl" - raised on Long Island but she lived in the West Village in NYC for most of her life after college. She had just gotten married that June- to Brendan- her high school sweetheart.  As a 33 yr old now, I -especially when 9/11 comes around- wonder if the "3 extra years" that I've had, if I've lived them well.  If I've ... done the "right things" with mine?, if I've done "enough"? We all have our own "story" and a "path" I think, but this time of year always feels like 12 yrs ago. It always feels like the longest day.

However, it's what inspired me to travel. That "never knowing". "Live for today". Since 9/11, I've found myself saying "if it's my time, it's my time." .... there's no point in letting fear and anxiety freeze me/you/us  if we all have "a time". Three thousand people, including my cousin-  had theirs on that day. It's the one thing that makes it's hard to ever "permanently" leave New York. Because there are three thousand people who were going to work that day and - they can't leave. They're still here.

I've known people who have died young and people - like my grandmother at 99 yrs old -who have died old. I've seen people overcoming disease and people succumbing very quickly to disease/illness. So I know- there is "a force" behind it all. Love while we're here.  Encourage dreams. Try to erase borders/walls. 

We ARE one world.  

Four Seas, One Home. 

My Grandma, Marjorie Lucid - who left Ireland at 2O yrs old- to move to America- here with her 1O grandchildren. Chris, Kerry, Kristy, Michelle, Me, Greg, Tracy, Megan, Wendy, and Sean.
February 2Oth, 1996 at "The Rainbow Room" in NYC celebrating Grandma's 9Oth birthday.
SUCH a good time. Great memory.

I miss both of them so much. Grandma passed away in 2OO5. She never knew about 9/11. She was in the nursing home- getting very tired easily at that point and didn't read the newspapers. Out of respect to my Uncle Stuart and his wishes, no one ever told her. I'm sure she was very surprised and happy to see Kristy when they were reunited.

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