Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Thoughts & Snippets

I'm inching my way back into social contact -- yesterday I had lunch with a couple of Becki's Beijing-based pals (note: alliteration - an amazingly appealing activity). My insides are still groaning under the greasiness of Peking Duck, sausage that would have done my farm-dwelling grandmother proud, egg with a hearty helping of shaved pork and assorted delicacies. I've been eating generally sparsely, in the interest of preserving valuable resources for gratifying my other 4-5 senses, and so my stomach, having become accustomed to balls of rice stuffed with pickled plums or truly authentic cups o'noodles, was no match for this lunch-time feast.

Last night, on the other hand, I attended that famed millennia-old spectacle -- Peking Opera. Setting aside cultural sensitivity for a moment, I would like to note that where I'm from, people who make use of the kinds of voices I endured during that evening are shot. Frankly, the last time I've heard screeching of the nature produced by the female protagonist there were cats mating on my balcony (... I poured water on them, though, I didn't give them a microphone!)

Today, I'm heading to Tianjing, one of the last stops of my trip. It's odd to think that in slightly more than a week, my journey will be drawing to a close -- especially in light of the many invitations I've received to either stay or return speedily for longer periods of time. People I've met on the road want to connect me with schools where to teach English or German; new and casual acquaintances are eager to introduce me to the heads of their companies who are apparently eagerly looking for foreign-trained lawyers. These encounters are flattering and undoubtedly for many people merely a polite way of negotiating having to say good-bye to someone they just met, whom they will in all likelihood never see again. On the other hand, in the weeks before coming to Asia I've begun, for the first time in many years, to think about leaving America -- not dreading the potential of having to do so, not anticipating being thrown out and trying to ward against it, not joking about it, not even thinking about relocating incidental to attending a particular school or participating in a particular program ... just, well, leaving America.

This partly reflects the realization that sooner or later I will likely have to do so. Even if the INS does not intervene, the subject matters I'm studying are best pursued in Europe or the Middle East. Ironically, Germany is one of the places best equipped for the serious pursuit of theology, a fact that causes me at times no end of despair when I reflect upon the last decade I've wasted, wandering around a continent that excels in training professionals in a wide variety of fields unrelated to my own. I know full well the blessings of the last 8+ years (... when I turn 28 in December, I'll have spent more than a third of my life in the U.S. ...) and I recognize the cyclical, upward-spiraling nature of growth and maturity. I am still learning to value the journey and appreciate my own relative youth -- I merely suppose I would have liked to be either better directed or less sure of my own directeness during my early twenties. Well, as a wise man said a few years ago -- what a long, strange trip it's been ;)


At September 15, 2004 at 10:27 PM, Blogger Paddy O. said...

A wise man, a holy man, once wrote, "How do you know what will happen tomorrow? For your life is like the morning fog--it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.'"

Accept today for what it is, and be full in yourself, for you are who God created you to be.

And above all, take in the Present. Asia is a wonderful gift to you, methinks.

There... my pastoral exhortations are out of my system.

Beautiful writing and wonderful thoughts. Thanks for sharing all you are.

At September 15, 2004 at 11:21 PM, Blogger Ella Quint said...

So, Patrick... was that by any chance the POT?

So, Maria, you met Twinkle before I did? I'm a little jealous, but I guess I'll get over it. And by the time you see this, you'll be in Tianjin. I guess I'll have to get over that too. Have a wonderful time there. Remember to give Beck that hug I sent. :)


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