Away from the Things I’ve Known

It’s interesting how fast this city changes from nature to concrete. There are a lot of little random parks like in Mexico, but there is also the river running through between where I live and downtown. I wandered over to DaZhi to see what was around, and it wasn’t what I expected.

I missed the Dragonboat Festival, I thought it was on Friday and I never bothered to check, but I’m not too worried about it. I’m sure I’ll see it next year. I wandered through the Martyr’s Memorial just as they began the changing of the guard. It was really empty for a holiday. I’m used to seeing places where no one stays home when they get a day off. I expect places like that to be flooded with people, but it was calm. Maybe it was the rain, but it rains so often I figured people would be used to it by now. I’m sure I’m still strange to them, standing at the edge of an overhang with my hand out in the rain. Growing up in a desert seems to have affected the way I see the rain. I still miss the beach, and sometimes I sit in my closed room in the 90 degree heat with the dehumidifier on because it’s comfortable.

I always stood out, wherever I went. I got used to being unusual a long time ago. Mostly it’s just fun to surprise people. People know I’m big, but I have learned to compress myself over the years, partially because of martial arts and partially not to keep hitting my head on doors. My actual height and weight usually surprise people, even other fighters. We’re usually trained to gauge other people, but I can still be a surprise.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, beyond what I can make of it. Kung fu helps me move like a much lighter person, being an Arthur taught me to always take things one step farther than the people I’m dealing with, and gave me the joy of emotional disconnect. Life is easier when your emotions stay in the distance. It wasn’t always that way, but I’ve been able to hone it over the years.

I remember thinking that I had no pride when I was younger, but now I see that I just run from it. I thought I was depressed, but it turns out I was just going in the wrong direction. I thought I had no vices, but it turns out I was just as blind as everyone else. To become what I want to be requires me to face my demons, but I got so used to ignoring them that I forgot their voices.

I reached out to company HQ today, looking at the next year after my contract here ends, and I’m wondering what it would be like to be as far off the map as I want to go. Here in Taiwan, it’s impossible to really leave the map, but you can get away from the influences of Western culture. But if I’m unusual here, what will I be there?

What I appear to be is usually what you would expect an American to be, not as we want to be. I’m big, fat, white, always in a hurry, and somehow I always look angry. I remember going to Glide and being told that when the director first met me she though I looked hard and angry, but when she talked to me she found me to be the complete opposite.

I know that if I have the time I will connect to people down there, especially if I get my Mandarin up to where I want it to be. I just hope I get the opportunity. It’s not always easy convincing the people at the top that you are the right person for the job. It’s not always easy convincing myself.

I think it would be a good starting point for where I’m headed, to places where I am truly alone. I have been looking at the Peace Corps again, places where there is no internet, where the trip to work can be fifteen miles, where there is no water or electricity. Away from the things of men. Well, away from the things I’ve always known, anyway.

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