Tuesday, 22 July 2008

lucky bastard

"You are really luck!" She said to me as she washed and massaged my head. She, a middle aged married Chinese woman who left her country and family to earn better money; but the lack of education has impeded her opportunity.

I have never thought of myself as lucky. Growing up in a middle class family with dotting parents and a rather normal life, albeit a bit boring and bland at times (now that I think about it, haha...). Of course, there were times that I wished I had a better (read: different) life. I grew up comparing... almost everything, parents, friends, statues, etc. I wished I was someone else, the handsome guy or the rich man's son in the movie I just saw, the brain of the family. I measured myself with the standard of the world and I didn't live up to it, not by miles.

Interestingly enough, it was in the Catholic church that I found refuge, in God's embrace that I found acceptance. I learnt to see who I am through a different set of eyes, I learnt to accept my gifts and my defects. I learnt to love myself. I crawled out of a shell into the blinding light of the sun and let my old self be washed away by the pouring of the monsoon. I became me.

But all these in the expense of education. I chose to serve the church right after my secondary education rather than followed the "normal" path of continuing my education. But thanks to the relentless persistence of my parents, I finally got myself an education. And thanks to the years working for the church; the detachment allowed me to look at myself and what I really want to study, a chance which not many people have.

And with this education, some doors were opened to me and had therefore given me a lot of opportunity. I have met lots of intelligent people who don't have a university qualification and therefore missed out in many chances. Education became such an important part of our survival, our being... since when did we start to measure a person's worth by their education?

With these events, and not being en-sync with the flow of the world, allowed me to know myself deeper and see things in a very different perspective. And I chose to go down a path of unknown, a path where I learn to discover myself, away from my culture, my family, familiar setting... We know that we are what our background, culture and family made us. And if we take away these equations, who are we? Does memory equal identity?

The last 4.5 years of life on the road helped me to discovery a lot about myself and surprisingly I am happy to be who I am today... without any dragging identity, irreconcilable differences between what you feel and what you know, past guilt, worrysome future... I may lead a very simple, "aimless" life, but it is this day to day, present living that gives meaning to me. And who I am today is the product of all my past so I have no regrets at all. I don't wish for things to be different anymore, I stop dreaming a different dream. I am content with myself.

So I guess I am a lucky bastard

Monday, 21 July 2008

Unsettle the settled

By this September, I will have been living in Spain for 3 years. And legally I could apply for residency. That prospect tempts me and tortures me to no end; what with the possibility of living in Europe, which I love, legally and the possibility in the future of getting a European passport. How could I not be enticed?

It is a strange sensation. I claim no nationality, cultural and religious affiliation. Yet, the idea of settling down, having a "home" seems to appeal to be. Why? I have no answer to this question. I guess it is the idea of familiarity and comfort that appeal to me.

Like everyone else, I was brought up on a set and protected environment (as much as a normal environment provides). And so, it is very natural to want to be in this comfort zone; where you don't have to worry about anything, everything is easy... life becomes complacent. Who doesn't want that? We work our arse off our whole lives just so that we could retire and lead a fuss-free life. Right? Well, at least that's what the majority think and what the current society is promoting for everyone, regardless.

I have a bone to pick with this concept of living. That is, what happen if you don't make it to retirement? Would you then consider your life wasted? Unlived? The future is not something guaranteed. We don't have it saved in bank vault nor does life give us a warranty card for it. So, all we have is now, the present. So we should live the present.

Living the present means not fearing what the future will bring but appreciate what I have at the moment and not wanting more. And since my wanting to settle down steam from the fear of the future, I need to seriously ask myself if it is what I want now. If I would be happy doing the same thing I am doing the last 3 years, adapt myself to a culture that I like but don't quite belong to, become part of the "system" of society?

I guess not! Whether I choose to settle down now or not, the most important thing is to have a settled inner self. Once it is calm and peaceful inside, the outside will be guided to align and create the balance that life requires.

The outter manifestation is but a reflection of the inner expression.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

I miss you...

"I miss you from time to time." The message read.

What does it mean when you get this message from your ex? It meant a lot to me. It has been 1.5 years since we broke up but hard as I try, I have never been able to find a closure for this relationship. We were physically together for 3 days. 3 days!!! The intensity of these 3 days and the months that followed was something that I had never experienced before or since. If it is merely a crush and physical attraction, how could it last the test of time and distance?

A friend once asked, "what is it about him that you missed?" I searched and searched but couldn't come up with an answer.

A lot of the time, we try to find answer to our problems. We go out in search of answers with our mind already set. It is like going out with a small square box and try to find a rock that fit it exactly and perfectly. If they don't fit, we discard them and keep searching. The chances of finding something that fit perfectly is rather small, wouldn't you say?

Love is strange. But beautiful. It hurts me that this love could not be what I want it to be. But it is still a beautiful experience. Beauty has no goodness or badness. It is neither perfect nor imperfect. It just is.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Tide of change

I am never a big fan of football. In 35 years of my life, I have only seen 4 full matches and the last 3 was the recently completed European Cup. For almost a week, I was caught in the frenzy of sensationalism as everyone around me were so fired up and excited about the game. And I let myself be carried along the current of the "Marea Rojo" (red tide). I shouted and raised my hand in ecstacy when Spain scored a goal. My heart pounded when Spain score and tightened when it miss. For the final, I went to one of my favourite tapas bar and surrounded by Spaniards, I went through a roller-coaster ride of emotion just like everyone else in the bar. And when the final whistle blew and Spain had won, I screamed with joy like a Spaniard.

But the euphoria was short-lived. As the multitud cladded in red shouted for joy and chanted, I suddenly felt that I had fell from a pedestal back to earth with a loud thud. One of the chant, "Yo soy español, español, español..." left me with a bitter taste in my mouth because I suddenly realised that I am not a spaniard. Although I have lived here for almost 3 years, I have never felt quite belong, in both small and big ways, I feel rejected by the society and the government. Excluded because I am not "one" of them; by race, by lifestyle and most importantly, by identity.

As I walked along the streets, I saw crowd gathered to celebrate the victory, euphoria hang in the air and people were dancing and chanting. I wish I could partake in their joy and excitment but I felt really detached. I wander whether this sense of detachment comes from a certain awareness, the ability to look at a situation (even with myself it in) from a distance. So, I can never identify myself to any external and collective identity.

In defining Nationalism, Wikipedia states that "
nationality is the most important aspect of one's identity." That's a pretty strong statement to make, and a very generalising one too. Except for a small period in my youth where I felt this sense of pride for my land and the country I lived in, I have never felt a tremendous sense of nationalism. There are people who would kill in order to attain or preserve their nationality; wars have been fought on this ground through our human history. After leaving my hometown and being on the road and calling a place home regardless whether I have any shared identity with it, have made me lost touch with the idea of nationalism.

The society wants to understand us by putting us in a box and hope that we always remain in it. It makes everyone's job so much more easier. "Oh! You are Chinese, you must eat rice everyday!", "A Spanish? Hmm... do you do siesta in the afternoon?" We don't even make an effort to try to see the other person as an individual. And we are surprised when he or she doesn't behave according to the law of practice within the box of understanding.

We are always evolving, we can never be the same person we were yesterday. Most people change along the line of their national identity but I have decided to change without any anchor or safety; Threw myself to experience and let the current of life takes me to wherever, to the unknown.

So without "the most important aspect of my identity", who am I?