I’m in love with a saying. The phrase in Chinese is “后会无期”. I came across this phrase after watching a movie with this phrase as its title. In English this translates into something like “No future date” or “See you never again”, but I don’t like those translations because they’re too dismal, so my own personal translation shall be “at no point in the future”. It’s not much better, but I’ll take what I can get.
Dismal it may be, but I’m in love with this phrase because it resonates with how I’ve lived my life these past couple of years. I’m always on the move, never really settling down, after having fallen head over heels with the notion of being able to be free and be me and unrestricted by the dogmatic ways of society. There’s a very formulaic prescription for the sickness that is the “human condition”, and that prescription in our industrialized, capitalistic, first world society is MORE.
More can be good because more can mean growth, leading to richer and more complex lives. But after satiating basic needs, what more do we want? I thought I wanted to see the world, and to an extend I did, having traversed across more than 10 countries and living abroad 3 times. Do I want more of this? The answer, to my own surprise, is no. There were many things that I was looking for at the time, and I found many things while finding my way. Nothing I found was more profound than the realizations of my own nature. Only after living on the 26th floor of a building within a city more compressed than a neutron star (my current situation) do I realize that it will be the bane of my existence to continue living as such.
Only after living in rural Japan did I come to appreciate the refined social customs that makes Japan…Japan. I’m truly at a loss for words when it comes to describing Japan because it is so polished and punctual and presentable but at the same time there are undercurrents within the collective Japanese psyche that seems to me…almost bizarre (no offense intended). It’s not something I can accurately describe. Only after being there can you see.
While economic and cultural analyses of cities and societies are somewhat interesting, I find the true gems of being abroad in those fleeting and ephemeral chance encounters with other individuals that I just happen to bond with for a very brief moment in time. The initial greetings, the exchange of ideas, the flow of interaction, and the slight alteration in the person I was prior to meeting those people abroad and after meeting them, to me, is an essence of being alive. These chance encounters when accumulated and strung together have literally become the stuff of my life these past few years.
One difference between an ephemeral chance encounter abroad and encounters that occur at home is the time scale. While I’ve had the opportunity to meet many wonderful individuals who have shown me meaning and purpose in regards to life from completely different perspectives, I’ve lacked a core, a center, that holds me together at a place called home.
Relationships forged at a place called home are forged for years, possibly decades, constantly weathering storms and evolving and intertwining together that form a binary system, with one being revolving within the gravity of another, spinning together, floating through space together, expanding together, growing old and one day dying together.
I don’t get to experience this luxury because instead of a star to dance with, I wanted a universe to explore. I wanted more. Instead of a base, I wanted to roam. Instead of staying at peace, I wanted to conquer. And my mind’s hordes chased serenity off the cliffs and into the waters, where I didn’t know if serenity for me would ever wash ashore.
I too fell, and with the currents I drifted, from one bank to the next, only realizing the follies of my decisions only after they’ve been made. I’ll learn to swim or I’ll learn to float or at least I’ll learn a thing or two about me as long as I stay alive. Above all though, I’ve come to realize that no man is an island, and thus I ask: for what do you live, and why?
What means “more” to you than anything in this universe?
I thought I wanted to see the world. Now I just want to see you again.
后会有期 (There will be a time in the future)