I remember thinking to myself, "live outside of my beloved Belize? Never!" "Live in an island and be always afraid of a tsunami? Never!" I guess living abroad in my narrow-minded thinking meant moving to the USA, like many other family members of most Belizeans. Living in an island, in my innocent mind, meant moving to San Pedro or Caye Caulker, tiny Belizean islands, where the residents scurry for boats to travel inland when a hurricane looms.
I had traveled abroad before, and for most Belizeans, abroad means crossing the Mexican border to Chetumal or the Guatemalan border to Melchor for a one-day shopping spree. But even when I had traveled to Antigua, Guatemala City or Montego Bay, Jamaica in my teenage years, I still held on to the thought of never leaving my jewel for no matter what reason, to live elsewhere.
Who knew life would teach me to never say never.
For reasons you will read in future blogs, I ended up landing in Taiwan on a hot, late-August day, bursting with the yearn to start my life anew. I wanted to find out who I really was, away from close-contact criticism and self-preservative given advice. In a land of millions, I would go unnoticed. I brought no power or wealth along, I would go unseen. Few revel in this state of existence and I would make the most of my insignificance by finding my true self.
As the years passed, the chains that had shackled that true self in my late teens and early 20's slowly rusted and broke apart. Surrounded by curious souls coming from different parts of the world for 4+1 university years, accepting and embracing different trends of thoughts, slowly, my beliefs molded and remolded like clay formation before the final vase. The perfect fusion of tradition and modernity that surrounded my steps have aided in the renaissance that only Taiwan has enabled to flourish in all the 11 years I decided to live here. For it encompasses all the moments, happy and otherwise, that have shaped the person I am now.
I attribute all my adulthood growth to living in Taiwan. A land that embraces that which is foreign and makes it its own. The simple thought of "let me be me", a struggle in the past, no longer a hindrance for my future. But perhaps that in itself is what enables me, the foreigner, the expat, the immigrant. I have seen the beyond and the promises it brings. Why must I settle? Why must I allow my fears to dictate my actions, my future? No longer shall it be.
Taiwan has brought forward the brave me, the outspoken me, the me that is willing to fight for justice, what is right, that what makes us all equal despite race, age, gender, etc. Despite not being able to fully understand the common languages, one understands the heart, the facial expressions, the emotions shown or hidden. Time really is a great lecturer and one must be willing to observe not only with the eyes, but with the heart. If your thoughts do not expand beyond the initial thoughts after you land in a foreign land, did you really make an effort to integrate?
Vice-versa, have you noticed if those who call the foreign land their home, have made an effort to embrace you? Democratic, this land is and that in itself can speak volumes regarding acceptance and letting be. Alas, the past sometimes has a heavy pull when it comes to integration. In that case, I ask, "have you let your past dictate your present?" "Have you let the common belief of years gone tug your will to embrace and feel a sense of belonging?" Ponder.
But what enchants me the most, is the safety Taiwan offers. Forget the crazy, thoughtless drivers and think about it. Do you worry about theft and murder? Not I said the cat. Letting go of this fear really allows space for your thoughts to level up and go beyond the 6:30 news. What enchants me more is the convenience of getting to new places, and oh so many, man-made or not. I do not need wealth and power to enjoy earth's riches and simple or intricate decor. Taiwan has indeed enabled my being, must I say more?