Since about..November 2011, I have been on a boy sabbatical or as I fondly call it, ‘boy free period’ (BFP). Since the establishment of that, I have learnt so much about myself and who I am as a person; the time has also given me an opportunity to once again grow closer to God from whom I had been hiding from due to my pass transgressions. However, during this time, I had a good friend that I spent a lot of time with and he was a guy. Despite the fact that I/we had consistently reiterated the platonic nature of our relationship, I suppose emotions cannot be controlled as such. Unfortunately, our friendship came to an end because he wanted more than what I could offer him. Since the end of that, it seems like the floodgates have opened and out came interest. As much as I may desire being in a loving relationship with someone, establishing something long-term and not being able to (physically) run away from it later on would be a completely new experience for me, one that I don’t feel adequately prepared for. It’s a paradoxical to think this way I suppose but that’s how I feel. I also don’t aspire to have a casual relationship because that’s not my thing. With this new potential territory comes many things to consider including the social consequences if a hypothetical relationship goes wrong. I am currently permanently employed in a position and work place that I really enjoy and do not plan to leave this city for at least another year and half. I cannot just run away. I fear the potential consequences that could arise in a long-term relationship. Just thinking about it makes me anxious, like a caged animal. I don’t feel like I’ve established what I’ve needed to establish in myself yet.
How do I turn ‘it’ off? This may come off as arrogance but for some, the ability to attract the opposite sex is something desirable and a skill to be cultivated; for me, it is a struggle to turn off that ability. I don’t believe myself to incredibly physically attractive or attractive in general; I don’t believe I’m ugly or anything, but don’t find much that would especially entice the opposite sex. Yet..here we are.
When we’re younger, we are often asked ‘what do you want to be when you’re grown up’? Well, I’m technically a ‘grown up’ but I have yet to come up with satisfying answer to this question. It used to be as simple as saying: a fire fighter, a teacher, an astronaut, etc. but it really isn’t..or is it? Our dreams are often complicated, if not completely snuffed out, by logic. There are many things outside of ‘work’ that we enjoy and love yet how often do we really get to do what we love as our job? Would we love it as much? Often our hobbies outside of the work place is a sort of escape from the ‘real world’. A good friend and ex of mine does just that though and he wouldn’t have it any other way. There have been times in this blog that I have said how much I wanted to go out and live out in the bush, leave behind the cubicle life I’ve seemingly carved out for myself. I still believe that the whole cubicle living isn’t my sort of life and as a matter of a fact, will be coming to an end in a couple of months. This is why this question of who I want to be and what I want my life to look like has come out. You can say I’m at a bit of an impasse here. I am tired of being envious of people who do what they love for their work; its not dragging their sorry asses to work every day and working from 9-5, but they’re doing something they believe in so even if they are met with challenges, their passion and love for what they do will carry them over.
This is where I am: the need to financial support myself, the need to really do something to make a positive impact on this world and for others and to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Without being able to fulfill all three things in my life, I think I would be unhappy to an extent. Sure, you can say they’re just three things, three very vague concepts. However these three concepts have a great deal of depth and because of their vagueness, lack any real answer without some soul searching. Not to mention, as we grow and experience ‘life’, these things change. I am/have considered taking some time off just to frolic off in the woods somewhere, maybe Australia or New Zealand, but I don’t know if that would really provide me with the clarity that I seek and instead, just distract me from what I really need to do and that is to answer what the above three things are to me or perhaps more importantly, how to have all three things work for me at the same time.
At this moment, to live simply would to travel somewhere and climb, work odd jobs that make enough to support my addiction. I mean, I want to live damn it! I feel like that my life has been driven by career and purpose and well fuck, I want a break just to live life for the moment and rebel. As amazing as my abroad adventures have been thus far, its all been career driven. But…would I be really content doing just that? With no drive and purpose to what I was doing? I don’t know..maybe the initial plunge would be exhilarating but I have a terrible need for purpose. But a huge part of me admires the people who just drop all their shit and hit the road to enjoy the outdoors and well, I want a piece of that pie. However, if I go that route, even for a bit, will that impede the drive towards my ‘purpose’?
Then in contrast, here I am: sitting in a comfy (albeit soon to be a short lived) public sector job that provides financial security (temporarily but for argument’s sake, we’ll just pretend that its a bit more permanent :P) in my field and yet, all I feel is my soul leaving my body, leaving nothing but a drying husk of a person behind reading a fucking long report on a high speed rail. I realize that this experience will contribute towards to my ‘purpose’ but there’s no ‘life’ here. I live for the time away from the office; what kind of living is that? I honestly spend an exorbitant amount of time perusing climbing and outdoor websites..really, that’s where my soul longs to be. There’s nothing more amazing than sitting on a mountain or cliff top and breathing in the fresh air and landscape. Everything makes sense because it’s just you and the living space. I feel like the passion I once exhibited concerning politics and such has completely died since I started here which is kind of ironic since I’m working in a political bureaucracy.
What is it then, to really ‘live’?
To fulfill your God given purpose?
Ever since I’ve returned from Europe, I have been confronted with liberal vs. traditional view points of life. I’m confronted on two fronts: culturally and religiously. Yesterday, I made my mom cry. Yes, I felt like a terrible person. What happened was that I told her that I found it difficult to be living with her again, even though I had only been back for a few days. For over five years, I haven’t spent more than a couple months living in the same place as a my mom and to be honest, relish in the freedom of living on my own. Traditionally, Chinese families live together; you have the grandparents, parents and children living together, regardless of the latter group’s age. This clashes with what we’ll call Western practice where the child goes out and lives on their own around the time they become 18; of course, the recession has seen a decline in this practice at the moment, but the sentiment is still there. Due to my family’s circumstances, I understand why my mother reacted as such but how do I find the balance between my love and loyalty to taking care of my mom and pursuing my life outside of her confines, as well intentioned as they are? Most likely, I will be living elsewhere and potentially not even in the same city as my mother due to professional pursuits.
The other side is the question of where I stand in terms Christianity I suppose. I’ve always counted myself to be a more liberal and open than some others I know and met. No, it doesn’t make me any better than anyone else nor does it mean that I believe in God and Jesus any less (yeah, they’re one in the same for the sticklers who are reading this ;]). But I understand where people may get the idea that religion, not just Christianity, is seen to be intolerant, elitist and unaccepting. I said a couple things that don’t necessarily jive with the traditional religious view point my mother holds and her reaction was distasteful and to some extent, even hurtful. Perhaps it’s because I’ve traveled more, met many other different people or just think the world should be generally more tolerant of one another. I have gay friends, friends of every colour and (non)religious belief, mates from all over the world and I love them all to bits. I fear that by clinging to one’s traditions so tightly and not being able to hold on to those traditions without taking into consideration the changing societal context may breed intolerance and isolate different groups from one another.
I haven’t really unpacked anything like a quote or whatever since I finished my last English course at university. Sure there was the occasional rant during dinner conversations or the occasional muttering that may cause others to consider me to be a bit mad (which is alright I suppose…aren’t all (aspiring in this case) geniuses a bit mad or considered mad anyways?)
I suppose this quote could be read in a number of ways. As I’ve returned from the sunny Andalusian region of Spain to the cloudy, cold weather of Belgium and having ended my short lived relationship with a person of interest, I suppose the loneliness is more profound than ever before due to the relativity of the situation. Question here is, is man the only creature that can feel loneliness? Do we feel it at a level that only man can feel? Sure, animals may feel lonely, but is it more of an issue of survival rather than “feeling”? For myself, loneliness is a feeling that causes me make decisions that may not be so smart in the long run, for example, pursuing short term relationships. My friend once asked me what were the points of these relationships, especially ones with people with whom I knew would not last or be pursued for a long duration if the situation allowed for it. Even though one knows that such is the case, I believe that man pursues these things just to feel again. Mm, I suppose that didn’t make much sense. Short term relationships or something in pursuit of human relations is a substitute for that alleviation from loneliness. Anything to cure this condition, whether it be only a short term cure. My last ‘relationship’, if you can even call it that for its extremely short life, was with a person who cared about me and treated me extremely well. However, things ended because I/we realized how different certain fundamentals of our beings were and if things were to continue, then we would end up loathing each other for those differences that made who we were. Yet I find myself contemplating whether or not it was the most opportune decision to make. There’s no question that this was the right decision to make but having someone there when one feels alone is something hard to part with…and has left me wondering if I should have done what I did. With the instability in my life, well I suppose more flux than instability, I feel isolated from establishing close relationships. The ones I have are constantly being tested by the time I spend away from these people.
Furthermore, as a Christian, we are told that we will be sitting on the fence, an entity in the world but not of the world. An uncomfortable position to be in and I believe part of my loneliness stems from this position. I embrace it but at the same time, occasionally resent it. Sitting on the fence is something I think I’ve done rather well thus far in my life, between my different cultures in attempts to define who I am as a person, between my professional and personal life (though..this is something I constantly question), etc. One of my friends told me something had been different about me when he met me; his cousin told him (upon meeting me) that I was probably a Christian. On one hand, that’s what I want, to stand out or be different because of my beliefs, but in a way that is not imposing but rather invokes questions. On the other, I feel isolated because of this. This part of me something I cannot share fully and have it understood by many of the friends I make; this is further exacerbated by the fact that I don’t have a cell group here…or actually, any sort of church family. I cried when I went to Hillsong London because I hadn’t been surrounded by this awesomeness…to share this awesomeness with people who understood.
However, my beliefs give me a foundation of contentment…I know I’m not really alone because He is everywhere with me, wherever I go. Just sometimes I forget.
Children are often viewed to be innocent creatures, carefree in their ignorance, full of joy and laughter. Yet, if one only looks into their own childhood, this idealistic imagery becomes less concrete. Don’t get me wrong, frolicking children in the park makes me smile; it’s the maternal side in me I suppose (don’t tell anyone though ;)). What about the maliciousness children can evoke upon one another? We, as adults, have no excuse as we should “reformed” and “cultured” into knowing that this sort of unadultered bullying is not condoned in society..or is it? How often do we excuse bullying by children as an act done out of ignorance? When I was younger, I watched my brother endure a constant onslaught of torment from his peers, eventually driving him to change schools. No one wants to think children are capable of malice; however, this is the case. One can attribute this sort of behaviour as an expression of discovering one’s self and establishing some sort of identity or reputation amongst one’s peers. Sometimes, humiliating another is the only way to prevent the same treatment from others. After all this rationalization of why children can be vicious to one another, how does one mitigate it? Does one mitigate it? If not, how will this affect the lives of these people, whether they are the bully or the bullied, in the future? One can never forget the school shooting in Columbine or Taber, Alberta; those who opened fire had been subjected to constant bullying. Just…whose fault is it? Societal construction? Gah..
In my generation, there is common rhetoric concerning the supposedly closing gender gap. On the contrary, women are faced with even greater responsibilities as they often pick up “double” or even “triple” duty when it comes to balancing both responsibilities of the home and career. Sometimes, the career will be given up in order to provide better care for the family, but sometimes, the family ideal/concept is given up to pursue the career. We’re told that we can have it all, but is this a realistic pursuit?
The ultimate decision to leave for Europe for 7 months has left me to question this. No matter how the circumstances may fight for my conviction to go, I’m still going. It makes me wonder if this decision has set a precedence for my future decisions, that regardless of personal feelings and desire that I will pursue my career, the bigger picture. And in doing so, will this render me bitter with the lack of a sustainable personal life? I’m leaving something amazing behind. Even though I know that this will eventual leave me if I don’t leave first still leaves me so down. I’m leaving contentment behind. Those quiet moments of just being there, comfortable silence punctuated by the occasional affectionate exchange or poke to instigate a twitch and chuckle. Whenever I close my eyes and realize that my time here is drawing a close just…hurts. So immensely. Yet, I’m still going. Walking away from it all. I envision myself stopping at the airport and resolving not to go…but then my realistic self kicks in and I know I will walk on through those gates and leave it all behind. After I do, there is no going back. So much will change in time.
“Be still and know I am God” ( ) is the one of the few verses from the Bible I actually can recite from heart..which is probably because it’s only seven words long but these seven words have so much meaning behind them. “Be still” He says, yet how often are we just still? Everything is go go go. It’s like we’re energizer bunnies plugging in new batteries as we go, never mind that that the drum we’re pounding is wearing out, feet scuffed until holes develop; we notice when it’s too late. This happened earlier this semester when I burnt out from traveling, from pushing forward with my career goals which is why this topic is so close to my heart. People my age rarely spend time just to sit at a coffee shop or on a bench and watch the world go by or the trees bending as the wind blows. What do we gain if we are so called contributing to the world when we do not know really what it is? When all we see are numbers, dollar signs and materialistic pursuits? God made the world so beautiful, made things that man could never hope to build in a million years (even if we evolve to have tails and maybe even webbed feet!) and yet we glance but never truly see the beauty in these structures. Okay, I know that may sound a bit hippie but if you could just get over that, it’s true. I’m not talking about “hey dudeeee, check out the rainbow!” (when there actually isn’t one there). On Sunday mornings, I head out to Wild Earth cafe for an amazing Americano and just sit, eventually engaging in a conversation with someone I don’t know and listening to their amazing life experiences. When I should’ve been studying (or cramming) for my exams/papers, I opted to lay in the sun and enjoy it all. Do we do this enough? No.
Slow down. Take a breath. Close your eyes. Open them.