What have I learned about my family? Myself? Why am I here?
Every day I have been in Taiwan, I have prayed for guidance. Show me why I am here. How can I be useful? Who can I help? Could I work here? Live here?
I’ll meet with a psychologist and learn about the field in Taiwan. Check. I’ll explore the place on my own and see how I feel. Check. I’ll reserve an Airbnb so that I can feel what it would be like to be on my own, buying groceries, getting around. Check. I’ll meet with my family daily and get to know them better. Check.
All together, Taiwan has a lot to offer. There are definitely things I would have to adjust to (bathrooms, weather, food restrictions, gender roles, etc.) but I do not feel uncomfortable here. I have really enjoyed my time.
Spending time with my family has been the most important part of my trip. Truth be told, I do not know my family well, and they do not know me. That has always been the case. Forget the black sheep, I was a different animal, a wild horse. Meeting my uncle for breakfast and quality alone time yesterday at Dante’s Cafe was very special. Not only did he give me a brief history about the many Dynasties that ruled the east for thousands of years, he also provided me with anecdotes about our family’s history. Who did what to whom, when, and what and why did it happen. Having that information as it was told by a non-reactive, peaceful, and respectable man was so healing for me. I understood my relatives more, my mother’s life path, and my own path with my parents. I have learned just how different our worlds are, and how our paths have been running parallel to one another, like two rivers flowing from the same ocean and forking off in different directions. I have also learned about who my dad is as a person, which has helped me understand better his choices as a father.
No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Some sting far more than others, and some cuts bleed more and leave scars that seem to never heal. I have more clarity now than ever before about how much power I have to continue playing the same character in my family’s narrative, or perhaps I can change the script so that the story becomes one that is loving and healing. If not for others, for myself.
I have also learned what it means to be a part of my family’s culture. Confucianism runs deep. There is a Chinese expression, 讓他, rang ta, which means “let him/her”. It is visible in the way my aunt will stop herself mid-sentence if my uncle begins to speak. She is annoyed by him but will “let” him. It is in the way my mom will agree and affirm whenever my aunties chastise, scold, or nag her to do something or not to do something, even though she is annoyed. It is shown when my 大姨媽 eldest aunt and her husband are given the only bed to sleep in the apartment when they visit, and my aunt and uncle will sleep on the floor despite being well into their seniors years themselves. It is agreeing to do things for others even when one does not want to do them. It is giving others the best part of the dish at dinner while taking the worst part for yourself. It is shown through compassion as when my uncle picked up a worm that was baking under the hot sun and placed it in the shade while hiking in Beitou to “help him on his journey.” It is when strangers lovingly and politely give up their seat for someone who is elder or carrying children in the metro without hesitation.
What I previously wrote off as passive, I now see as beautiful and selfless. What I wrote off as annoying, I can see as caring. Being in Taiwan and with my family has opened a new window in a room where there was only one giant door leading to one type of thinking.
Once again, the questions of how I can serve or help are unclear and unanswered. Rather, the answers I have been given are to questions I didn’t know I had. As before, my time in another country, this time, one much closer to my heart’s home, has helped me.
For this I am grateful… and I shall continue to surrender, with good intentions and loyalty to my higher power.