Going out into the wild seems to take longer than coming back. I always thought it was because here, leaving the city always seems to require going up a mountain. Climbing Beichatianshan, river tracing up the waterfalls to Golden Grotto, or even just the shorter trips nearby are always uphill. I wonder if it’s something more.
We went to Silung hot springs a couple hours outside the city, just past the camp site on the river I went to last year in Dongyanshan Forest. It was a small camp site down a very steep trail, but it was all downhill. It seemed to take an hour to get to the site, then longer to get to the hot springs. It was relaxing. Could have been hotter, and the river water was like ice, but it was what I needed that week.
Leaving, seemed to only take ten minutes. It seemed like we were so far from the world, but we must have been just outside of where the cars on the road could be heard. The forest is always a world apart. I don’t love it the way 10 Minutes does, hunting for animals with his camera and wandering the jungles of the world, but I find peace there that is much more rare than in the city.
Coming back, we stopped for coffee, for fresh mountain vegetables, and for a traditional lunch. There was some debate on whether to go to Zoozoo Pizza and Steak, which might be awesome in NYC, but on a mountain in Taiwan is probably asking for disappointment. In the end, it would have been a strange contrast to our escape from the world, so we stopped at a random local restaurant and shared half a dozen dishes from the menu.
It’s getting cold here, not enough to freeze but there is a consistency about it that becomes painful after a while. I miss having heat indoors, and I’m grateful to go to work where the building is almost always too warm. I only have a couple weeks left there, and I know I’ll miss my classes. They are the reason I consider staying, even if that’s not an option at this point. Even if I stay, my work wouldn’t be the same.
The Peace Corps always seems to be on the edge of completion. I’m fat, and every time I see a new doctor they want to check my thyroid. I used to hope that there was a medical condition that caused it, but I just love junk food and hate exercise. A decade of practice has moved my feelings to like and dislike, but stress, cold, and exhaustion still drive me to junk food faster than I can fight it.
A few more days and I should be done. If that fails, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll come back to Taiwan, spend a couple years paying off my student loans. Maybe I’ll stay jobless and travel a bit. Maybe I’ll just reapply for the Peace Corps and see where that takes me.
There have been minor abnormalities with my test results, and I’m far more worried about losing the Peace Corps than I am about my health. It could be something, it’s probably nothing, and more than likely I’ll be fine, but I’ve learned what happens when I get too attached to a single possibility.
There is no way to know what direction the wind will take me. I know I’m not done traveling, and I always love the beginnings of any story best. In the beginning, there are endless possibilities. As the story runs its course, the possibilities fall away, and the story ends. It’s rare for the ending to be as satisfying as all those paths that were cut off along the way.
The Herald is the only storyteller I know that can consistently produce that feeling of possibility as the story unfolds, but that is the nature of roleplaying games. I have played many roles, and I’ll play many more, but without the Herald, I have to keep looking for the possibilities myself.
That is the difference between the game and life. A game always has solutions, and we are capable of finding them. Life offers you unlimited potential, but you never know if what you practice will ever be what you need to know.