I’m listening to Luciano Pavarotti singing Caruso on a Japanese futon in a tatami room located on the outskirts of Kyoto. After a night spent attending my very first traditional tea ceremony in the house next door and discussing with a Taiwanese-Chinese couple about the differences and mostly the similarities of our cultures, I finally, finally, came to the point where I can write again.
It’s been over a month since I last took the laptop, put it on my lap and started writing my thoughts away. Tomorrow will be the day I visit my 29th country and I didn’t even get to think, let alone write about the last 3 I’ve seen these last months. All the efforts I put into writing my lastly published article (over 2 months ago) were in vain because of a news that hit me in Tunisia in August. A news that doesn’t affect me personally, but it deeply affects the life of a person who I wished could be nearer than she ever was and ever will be.
Trust me, I really didn’t expect anything that has happened to me in the last couple of months. I didn’t expect seeing myself in this amazing country riding their amazing trains and meeting their amazing people just as I didn’t expect not being able to write for so long due to an occurrence that really shouldn’t have happened. Not to me nor to anybody else in the world. It has torn me apart. I’m trying to put myself together writing this. I’m trying to rebuild the person I know I am and the woman I know I can be.
Today, I heard this wonderful Chinese poem. It goes like this:
- 靜夜思 A Quiet Night Thought
- 床前明月光 In front of my bed, there is bright moonlight.
- 疑是地上霜 It appears to be frost on the ground.
- 舉頭望明月 I lift my head and gaze at the August Moon,
- 低頭思故鄉 I lower my head and think of my hometown.
- It’s known and learned by Chinese and Japanese alike. I didn’t have a clue it could reach so deep into my soul and raise me up from the unspoken, unwritten state I’ve been in these last weeks. And yet, here I am, standing on this pretentious mat and thinking about the meaning of everything. I’m on the other end of the world and my thoughts couldn’t even get closer to this person than they have ever been before.
- “We’re all so different until we talk to each other and get to see that we’re actually more similar than we had thought” – that’s something I just told a Taiwanese TCM PhD student who’s living under the same roof as me. And I meant it. But to be honest, if you were to put me and the other, slightly older version of me in the same tatami room and let us talk for ages…you’d still get the same result.
- She’s there. I’m here. I’m everywhere. I’m conquering the world while she is lying in a bed and asking herself about the meaning of everything. She’s me. I’m her. Yet we are two different versions of each other and we strive to live our lives, our short, intense lives, the best we can. We use the means we have and we love the people that love us back. We are one in the mirror and we are all in reality. And if she’ll ever understand me the way I understand myself, she’ll love me even more than she already says she does. Because if you think about it deeply, I’m the only way she’s sticking around for a longer, more intense existence.