Like Chinatown

Spring feels like it’s here, and everything has started to turn greener. I’m still used to everything dying off during winter, but here it just seems to go dark green. Now, there is a light green coating to everything, and it makes it all look new and shiny. The sky was finally clear and blue, but it never seems to stay that way for long. That’s the only problem with it raining so often, the sky is usually gray.

The butterflies have come out in force, or maybe they’re giant moths. Either way, they are kind of dickish to each other. One will be chilling in the sun and another will randomly land on top of him. It’s amusing, but I usually find that behavior funny in humans too. Nothing makes me laugh like people being mildly dickish to each other for no reason.

Things are settling for me here, but I noticed something the other day. I was looking around thinking about Chinatown back in LA and San Francisco. There actually are a lot of similarities. Not to what I still think Chinatown should be, but to what it really is. A place where people built someplace that felt like home. The buildings, the people playing games in the park, the temples, and the food all have very close ties to what I’ve seen here. Even the feel of the alleys and the noise of the city are familiar to me.

I think that’s one of the problems with me being here. I expected someplace alien, someplace I had no reference for, but this is a place I know. It’s farther from home, and there are always things that surprise me, but it’s never completely unfamiliar.

I wonder if we’re supposed to see the familiar in everything, if that’s part of what keeps us sane. If you see nothing familiar around you, the animal that we are might start to panic. I think that’s the part of us that needs comfort the most, our instinct to find food, shelter, and allies against a dangerous world. All that seeks adventure and looks to the stars only comes when the animal is safe and quiet.

The question is, if we never listen to the animal and just assume everything is fine, how can we ever really know? That creeping sadness in life may be the animal looking for something it needs. Anxiety may just be the fear of leaving what we know provides us with survival. Most people I know never even realize the animal is there, much less learn to listen and understand it.

That’s a big part of what I have found in my life. Who I am is not a person, it is the head of a committee. When I need to speak to someone in Spanish or remember something important, it’s not me but my brain that deals with it, sometimes badly. I can’t tell you how many times it gets languages mixed up. I have had this dialogue more times than I can count, recently.

Me: “Brain, I need to talk to this person in Chinese.”

Brain: “Okay, use ‘hola, como estas?’”

Me: “That’s Spanish.”

Brain: “La verdad?!”

Me: “Fuck you, brain.”

When I need to move a specific way in kung fu, I don’t move, I outsource it to my body. It’s more like directing someone else than it is controlling myself. When I need to feel, I find the music that suits the mood, trying to change what my heart is holding on to. None of it is really me, just tools I have at my disposal.

People get so obsessed with what is theirs, their body, their mind, their heart, but none of it is really ours. We simply learn to rely on them because they are always there, then something fails and panic ensues. My mind fails on occasion, but it usually listens to directions and is endlessly flexible. My body has listened to depression for a long time, becoming what it is now, but it too can change.

I don’t know that this would work for everyone, but becoming unattached to the idea that I am my body, heart, and mind has made my life so much easier. Pain sucks, but it’s more distant. Depression is aggravating, but it can be fought. When you are something, depressed, anxious, even happy, it’s much harder to fight against it. Sometimes happiness can drag us in directions just as horrible as pain. “Do not pursue pleasure, for thou mayst have the misfortune of overtaking it…”

This entry was posted in 2016-04, Taiwan, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Like Chinatown

  1. Mom says:

    I can see you having that argument with your brain. You’re amazing


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