Saturday, March 18, 2006

No goodbyes

They say I touch people. With my presence, my words, my touch, my smile, they say I touch people. And partings with friends and relatives in the past few weeks have shown how deep that touch really is. But I’d like to think that people touch me, and that it is because of their reaching out, they in turn feel touched.

They say I come into their lives, perhaps for the ‘N’th time, or perhaps for the first time, but something I do or say seems to have an effect on their lives. I don’t know what it is, because I only do what I’ve always done, wherever I am, whoever I am with. And that is enough.

With each passing day, I say farewell to more and more people. Now, there’s only two more people, last but in no way the least, I’ll need to bid farewell to. It’s like each parting I’m closing a separate door, at least for now. Behind each door, different stories, a different kind of relationship…but each as meaningful and genuine as the other. With each passing moment, I draw closer to the moment of departure, and walk farther and farther away from the people and places I have come across in the past year of my life.

There’s this neutral feeling inside of me that is neither sad nor happy. It’s difficult to put this feeling into words, as in the past I would certainly have been able to use tears and feelings of loss to describe each parting. But now, those are the ones that seem to be lost.

I went to mum’s new office today (can you believe, on a Saturday!). It’s in Danshui, located at the mouth of the river which flows through Taipei and out into the great big sea. I stood by the shore, while waiting for mum to finish off some work. The water was surprising blue and clean, and at the same time the tide seemed so dangerously high and full. At times I needed to step away to avoid being splashed and drenched by water. The slight sea breeze was soothing, and the movement of fishing boats reminded me the passage of time.

The waves too moved up and down, up and down, but all the while in one direction: towards the great open sea. Where did all this water come from, I found myself asking. I tried to imagine the river throughout its flow to the sea. It must have started somewhere. And now it must end somewhere. This river must have cut through lush forests and open plains, flowed down perilous mountains and rough waterfalls. This river must have slid past congested cities, busy towns and quiet villages. At some point, the river must have been pristine and clear, full of life and activity, full of beings and meaning. And at some moments, it must have been soiled and polluted, by the excesses of life, rubbish and waste. I could imagine that someone may have dipped his feet in it, and felt the cold, or warmth, of the water beneath him. And every moment the river keeps flowing. Every moment the river keeps on changing. Never the same as the moment before, and definitely not the same as when it started, or when it meets the great open sea.

I stood, watching the mouth of the river. Wherever this river once passed, whatever this river experienced and felt, whoever this river came into contact with, it ultimately becomes one part of a big whole.

So it is the same with me, I guess, throughout this past year of wandering around like a vagrant in search of himself. There were ups and downs, scenes of beauty and ugliness, moments of pleasure and sorrow, feelings of pollution and clarification. Ultimately, they have flowed into my life and experiences, just as the river flows into the great big sea.

At the end of a long journey, it seems to be the time for reflection. I’ve really traveled far and wide this year. And now to go even further.

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