Monday, October 21, 2013

You Will Realize This After You Move Back Home After Living Abroad

You Will Realize This After You Move Back Home After Living Abroad

Originally published by Thought Catalog

Moving Back Home. For people who have lived abroad, it’s a death sentence. It’s the end to your misadventures in a foreign land, and end to the identity you carefully crafted and experimented with, an end to the reality you authored, an end to an era of living in the present.

But when you moved abroad, the end had always been the beginning. When you signed that contract, the end shook your hand and allowed you to have your fun while it lasted. It laughed at all your hangovers and discomforts. Because it always knew that sooner or later, life will catch up. And if you’re not prepared, you’ll meet a version of yourself that didn’t fully “apparate” – Harry Potter speak, when you decided to move back home. Part of you will always be left behind the county you once lived in. Part of you in the home you spent many years in, but are not so familiar with anymore.

In short, you enter a crisis of sorts. You’re first met with delusions, where you figure out if those months/years actually happened. If you actually met the people you spent most of your waking hours with. Then, you feel anxious about what to do next – if you want to recreate yourself in another foreign country, or stay put where you are back home. Then you become analytical. You explore the pros and cons of your previous experience and try to justify to yourself why you moved back home and plan what to do next. It becomes your lullaby every night. Eventually, sick of being in your head, your stuffed animals staring at you and your Facebook pictures of living abroad, you take courage to reconnect with the friends you left behind at home, without losing sight of the friends you left behind at your other home across the Pacific Ocean. With the support of both parties, you feel better. Maybe you were never alone at all, even if you’re just around yourself most of the time, as you figure things out through this process.

So you know what I realized? Regardless of what geographical canvass you live your life in, one thing is constant – you will always be with yourself. That means that it’s not just about seeking the next big life-defining adventure in the backdrop of a new country or career path, but how you are ok with just being around you, wherever you are and whoever you are with. In fact, the end goal of moving back home will be bracing the realities in your life that you tried to escape from – whether it is familial, career, relationship, monetary, etc. Are you finally brave enough to face the fears back home that you tried to escape from? Do you want to start a new chapter in your life story? Because now its not about the setting anymore, but the plot that you want to develop.

And maybe at the end of the day, the main villain in your story is fear – it decided whether you’d move abroad, decided whether you’d move back home, and determined if you’d decide at all. Fear is actually a neutral character that can instigate behavior. So next time you feel it, wherever you are in the world, will you run away or face it? When you’ve figured that out, you’re finally home.

The taste of home away from home (Hong Kong, Dec 2012)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunsets in Hong Kong

There’s something magnificent about sunsets. To describe one is to find a speck of yellow plotted across a vast sky that turns the horizon red, then a slight purple, then eventually, a mysterious black blue. Black blue is probably the color of the universe, and without the yellow speck that is the sun, we have a glimpse of just how expansively empty the universe is. It’s a dark place, but the stars bring it some light, with the “star” of the show as the sun. This is probably what explains our fixation on sunsets, knowing that its goodbye for a while to our main source of light in an otherwise dark, dark existence.

Sunsets quell us. They open our hearts to the gift of peaceful solitude amidst the busy backdrop of our lives. Our other senses surrender to the sight of metamorphosis - of an ordinary backdrop turned extraordinary as light creates colors and shadows that have the ability to evoke emotion. Witnessing a sunset is like watching a painting drawn by God everyday for all men, regardless of class, gender, religion or race. Sunsets allow us to befriend time and not feel guilty as we reminisce the past, bask in the present and dream about the future and all its possibilities. They allow us to just “be” - and even be one with something beyond our finite comprehension.

Even sunsets caught on film can captivate and inspire. I hope you become as inspired as I have been by the sunsets I have seen in Hong Kong. 

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island
Stanley, Hong Kong Island

Tai Po, New Territories
View from the Peak, Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong
Wisdom Path, Lantau Island
View from Ocean Park, Hong Kong Island
Mui Wo. Lantau Island
Hong Kong Geo Park, New Territories
Tap Mun, New Territories
Central, Hong Kong Island
Disneyland, Hong Kong Island
Dusk at Stanley, Hong Kong Island
Dusk at Sai Kung, New Territories