Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Person I Made Myself to Be

As I further sorted through photos today, I found a few of myself taken when I was in my twenties, and while there is not much else to remind me of those years, I think this picture speaks volumes, perhaps more than the books on the shelves behind me. This was taken while I was at living at my parents' home during my final few months of staying in the U.K. before I moved back to Taiwan more or less permanently.
Between the ages of 20 and about 29 when this picture was taken, my friends generally associated me with my bicycle, which was almost my only form of transportation during those years (I was credited with biking 180 miles in one day to go and attend a summer Bible camp and then bike back home one week later, not just once, but three years running). Other people associated me with my books (as you can see I had quite a few of them), and in particular with my fanatical interest in things Chinese.At the age when this picture was taken, I should have been married, living in a semi-detached house somewhere in England, working as an accountant in some office every day, and just being normal like everyone else. However, for several years I had had a dream of going to Asia and of learning Chinese, and when I finally could not pass my final accounting exams, I just decided to take off anyway. My first plane ride ever landed me in Hong Kong, and one week later I was in Taiwan. After a year there and having promised friends and pastors, etc. that I would return to the U.K., I went back to the U.K. more or less penniless, and after feeling truly lost and at times more lonely than I could ever imagine, I managed to find a couple of fairly interesting jobs in accounting that helped me save up enough to get back to Taiwan again.
So instead of trying to solve people's tax problems in an accounting office in England, I was spending each day studying Chinese language and literature, and of course making a lot of new friends. Those early years in Taiwan were not that easy, but the longer I stayed, the more smoothly things went. At least I had the satisfaction of being in the place where I wanted to be.
Fast forwarding to today, I had an interesting time swimming today. I arrived slightly earlier this morning and swam 4,650 meters non-stop in about 1 hr 31 mins. Then after a few minutes' rest and a slow 100m warm-up, I raced my friend over 100m, which he won in about 1m 24s to my 1m 27.5s. Less than a minute later, I challenged him to a 50m race, and I won that doing it in 40s flat to his 41s or so. I am not good at sprints so I felt quite satisfied with that swim. I am continuing to see gradual improvements. Again, I am not sure why I am doing all this, but I am just trying to make sure I keep at it. It would be nice to get an ocean swim in some time.

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