Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to China I Go

The silence of my blog may have got y'all wondering, "Where in the world is Jen?"

  • I was riding in the bike friendly city of Ft. Collins and sleeping at a farm full of fat turkeys, a few horses, and egg laying chickens in a town nearby.
  • I was in a tent in the middle of the aspen forests of Crested Butte sleeping by a rushing creek.
  • I was at my family's home at the base of a mesa of Grand Junction.
  • I was in a rustic cabin in the foothills of the surrounding area of Denver that only had the modern convenience of electricity.
  • I was in an awesomely decorated apartment full of artifacts from around the world.
  • I was hiking and biking in Boulder.
One more night in Seattle and then back to China where I start teaching on Monday.

Colorado was a land of soul searching because of being in nature and around family and friends. In the solitude, I think too much. Being distracted by the kindness and conversations of people makes me feel like I belong and can start a life in the USA.

What kinds of debates and questions came up in my head?

1. There is the old quote "You can choose your friends but you don't choose your family." When you're a kid you don't choose your family and in my special case since I was adopted I was specially picked out; however, when you become older, the question that pops up is Now that I can make my own decision, do I choose family back? Is the shared history, enough to overcome a lack of common ground? I choose friends because we have something in common. Why is family different somehow?

2. Is it better to face rejection in order to have a truthful, honest relationship with people by sharing everything and revealing oneself or is it better to keep the peace and hide? Can one have meaningful relationships based on hiding one's secrets? As I travel the world, I often have to censor myself or change to fit in. In Africa, I was a married woman. In China, I try to be a harmony driven Chinese teacher with western teaching characteristics who is too old and too educated to get married. In the USA, I've always hoped that I could be me, but is it worth being me and face the possibility of rejection?

3. Do I prefer solitude and isolation or being around people? In the mountains of Boulder, I went on my first hiking experience alone and it reminded me of the isolation and solitude of Africa as well as the bike rides into the countryside of China. I felt the peace of being me without the pressure of cultural norms, without the stress of being judged and making cultural mistakes, without the feeling that I don't belong. But then I also hung out with such wonderful accepting people that I felt the joy of being around friends and family.

4. Whom do I want to date? Whomever I pick as a partner, I think if they are full of joy about life, the little things, the flavor of a spice, the way the light hits the earth, the craziness of people and their long commutes in their cars, the way a plant survives and offers beauty to a dead area due to fire, a joy about life would be an excellent quality to have.

5. Am I ready to return to the USA? My dreams have been accomplished and at 33 sometimes I feel umm... now what? What else is there to do? Am I really ready to enter the working force of the USA, to work till I die, to have a car, to eat fast food, to watch TV, to worry about health insurance and retirement? The visit to Colorado helped me realize that there is hope for a life of creativity. There is hope to create a life for myself that is inspired from within. I don't have to get trapped into the stereotype of all that makes America ugly for me.


M said...

Like, this makes America ugly? :D
(sorry I just couldn't help it it's too good)
Have a safe trip bakc to China!

Caitrin said...

I am glad Colorado was good for you. happy you came. You should definitely come again... maybe even to live. Now I am going to go to the coffee shop to knit and drink coffee (jealous, ma?)... watched whale wars all morning. Season finale tonight.

Dr. Jen said...

Maybe to even live? Really? Are you planning on living there?

I think I liked Ft. Collin's cute coffee shop, store, restaurant area better than Boulder's.

Has the whale warriors made any dent into their cause? Or is it still the little man fighting a giant with no success?

Colorado was a nice place to be able to find peace with the USA.