China: Week 4 Things worth living forPosted on 2012.05.04 at 17:51
Current Location: Haiyang, China
Mental Status: sad
What is hard about living in the other side of the world? You are isolated. The people that surround you that speak your language are all that you have. Of course you can email friends and family. Posting pictures is slow. You need a VPN to use facebook and twitter. Skyping can be done with faster connections. But is it not easy to just pick up a phone and call people. At $2 per minute, you just don’t. And you realize how disconnected you are with things.
I have lost two people that were important to me since I came here almost a month ago. Tonight I will lose a third. I had known him since we were teenagers in college, we are fraternity brothers. Actually he is my little brother in my fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau. We lived in the same hometown for a while after school and then he moved out west and we lost track of one another. I got in contact with him again two years ago. We caught up online and played video games on Xbox live. Xbox live is a great place where you can spend time with people if you are playing the right game. Borderlands was our game, where Chris and I were seeking the fabled vaults of Pandora. Not long before I came to China he had some medical troubles and had to have surgery. The results were terrifying, he had extensive colon cancer. A fellow brother went to visit him and afterwards he asked me if I would be able to visit him. Two weeks out getting ready for my trip to China that could last five months, I didn’t have the time or money to go. I said I would be back by the latest in August. At the time, there was no reason why I couldn't see him then.
I got a message this morning that he had taken a turn for the worst and that they were gathering the family to say goodbye. Shawn, a fellow brother, was in Africa as he told me this. Shawn’s work with the CDC takes him everywhere in the world. He is often not home when he most wants to be. He knew every feeling that would be going through my mind. I sent him a message back and just sat in my room and cried for a while. What could you do? The company would not send me back for anyone other than a parent or a sibling. Getting tickets on short notice for an international flight can be difficult and they often run $6000 with fuel prices the way they are. Chris’s father had the exact same cancer. He was scared of getting it. He was scared when he did get it. I just sat there on my bed and cried thinking of him. That is the time when you realize that you have had no physical contact with another human other than a handshake since you have arrived here.
I got to work and opened Microsoft Word. I always write as I work. It is not a means of goofing off. It helps me keep focused. As I do other things, my mind wanders, so I write a few sentences and then go back to what I should be doing. Sometimes at the end of the day I have a document that is worth posting. Most days it is just garbage or disjointed. Today I wrote all of the reasons why it was great to be alive. Some profound, some stupid. But all of them were good reasons to be alive. Not every death is a sad occasion. If you have lived a long time and done many things, that is a life to be celebrated, one to be held up. A life cut short is one where the individual will miss out on much. And we will miss out on much not sharing those experiences with that person. My mind always goes to what they will never get to do, what they will never get to see, what they will never get to experience, what they will never get to say.
I have friends that get so depressed they lock up. They don’t go anywhere, they don’t want to do anything, they just isolate themselves and shut down. They give every reason in the world for why they "can't". They wear that like a badge of pride because it is comfortable and it gets them compassion from some. They have the means, they are physically able and I just want to jump up and down and scream “GET OUT THERE, you are missing out!!!!!" I know it is not the right thing to say to someone who is depressed, but it is always there with me under the surface.
I wrote and I wrote all day. I had to go to the site for a few hours twice today. At lunch, I ate my soup and thought of more things to write. I thought about this Roberta, a girl I knew in high school. Hadn't thought of her in years. I remembered hearing her play for hours classical music on a grand piano. I thought of friends that were far away. I thought of Zebby. I thought of scuba diving. I thought of my favorite meal, linguini with white clam sauce. I thought of the times I slept outside and watched the stars. I thought of Fiona, the bulldog puppy next door. I thought of riding the trails on my bike near my house. I had three pages worth of things worth doing, worth seeing, worth sharing, worth remembering. I might post it someday... if I can merge it with the other pages of stuff that is similar in nature.
Life is so worth living, but no one is going to hand it to you. You will have to go out and get it yourself. And you will meet people along the way that will want it like you do. If they don’t want to swim in the same direction as you, that’s OK, there will be those that will. But don’t be a stop along the journey. Keep swimming, keep learning, keep improving, keep positive, keep giving, do the right thing….always. Don’t do it for a reward. Don’t do it for an expectation. Do it without any thought of a return other than the intrinsic experience of doing it. And along the way you will be surprised.
Tonight is May the Fourth, so I am going to watch Star Wars. And I’ll think of Chris and take it easy.