Ms, What is the purpose of your visit?
“Got to step on faith
./I found strength courage and wisdom/Its been inside of me along/
I know if I open up my heart/I know that anything I want can be” India Arie- Strength, Courage,& Wisdom.
I know that a week doesn’t go by without me wondering what my purpose is. I fluctuate between wondering do I even have a purpose, or do I have any purpose for this world to I know I want a purpose that is on a very grand scale in this world. I have been praying a lot for my purpose and I haven’t had any insight. What made me think about this again, was the death of Christopher Reeves.
I always get weepy when an actor dies. I guess I’m a sentimental fool and there’s that part of me that always wanted to become an actor. Anyway, reading an article about him was intriguing. One person had described him as “the most intense person he had ever met”(sic) All of this intensity, apparently, manifested itself after his accident. Although he had attempted suicide, he came to realize that he had to face the fear in his heart in order to live for the purpose of his children’s wellbeing. Out of that came his heroic fight for those who had spinal cord injuries. Now, at first, I thought this was a hokey attempt at staying in the limelight. Why all of sudden was he being so vocal about a cause, I’m sure he wasn’t very aware of before? But he seemed to make it more about others rather than himself, which I guess qualifies as purpose. Nevertheless, when he passed on I wonder if he felt he had found his purpose in life and made the most of it.
Half way around the world, in Japan, 7 young people die in the largest suicide pact. I lived in Japan, so this isn’t very out of the ordinary for me. But what caught my attention, was what a professor said.
Shinji Shimizu, professor at Nara Women’s University, said group suicides could be on the rise because young Japanese are not exposed to death as much as in previous generations as fewer relatives die around them.
“Young people today don’t have a sense of reality about death,” Shimizu said. “They are approaching it as an extension of a game in cyberworld.” Yahoo News 10-12-04
Because young Japanese aren’t exposed to death as much as in previous generations? What kind of crap is that? Just because grandma and grandpa aren’t dying in their 60’s, doesn’t mean that these kids can’t understand the concept of death I can agree with the fact that they are heavily influenced by violent video games, and trying to escape the bullying or abusive family members but I hardly think that being exposed to death will prevent a suicide. Maybe what Shimizu meant was that these kids don’t have personal exprience with the impact that death has. To see it happening on the news to someone else or to hear about the nieghbor’s cousin mother dying isn’t personal so the degree of impact is remote. I know that my own attempt was due to the fact that I felt, at that time, I had no place of importance/purpose in anyone’s life. Or that my life didn’t have an ‘important’ purpose. As I see so many kids, in the 24 hour internet cafes, playing for hours, I reflect that with all of our advancements, we are moving further and further apart from each other.
I am asked a lot why I am studying Chinese. In 1996, I had the opportunity to make a dream come true. I was hired to work on a Hong Kong production for a film. The irony was that a year before all that I had comforted myself by watching lots of Midnight Madness showings of Hong Kong film, after the death of my mother. Secretly, while watching these movies, I wished that I could work on one. Lo and behold, I got my wish. After that experience, and subsequently my first trip outside the US, I was changed and thought that I had found my purpose. I moved to Japan, because was the closest way to getting to Hong Kong that I could think of. I figured just being in the region, serendipity would come into play, and poof I have my dream job-working in Hong Kong on a film. Time passed and the Hong Kong via Japan thing didn’t work out. Home for two years, and bam I’m back in Taiwan. I hadn’t given up on the dream, just tucked it away, because it seemed to be out of reach, and that was giving me grief. Once back in Taiwan, I figured I dust of the dream, and pursue Chinese. I would need that to have advantage. Things, didn’tt work out exactly like I had planned and I was back in Chicago after 10 months. I would have given up on everything if I hadn’t met a women, who didn’t mind speaking to me in Chinese, which showed me that I may have some potential. I enrolled in an intensive course, and in 5 months, I came back to Taiwan, to be a student full time.
During this time, every inevitable conversation I had would always touch upon, that question-“Why are you studying Chinese?” I would always cringe, because I didn’t want to tell my real reason, fear that I would be laughed at behind my back for having such a grandiose goal. But I also, didn’tt know authentically. I always felt that most of this journey to Taiwan, was more of God’s plan than mine, due to how it all came together. So that’s been my recent answer ” God brought me here”. I have given up on the Hong Kong dream.
In Taiwan, and I would dare say most Asian countries, your purpose is your job. When people ask what your job is, then that’s what you’ve wanted to do for your life. . I have always resisted that on some level. I rather pursue my dreams, than be employed helping someone build theirs. I’m always asked by the Taiwanese, what is my reason for being here and why do I want to learn Chinese? What is my purpose after my studies? All of it makes me wanna scream, because I don’t have the answers, and sometimes I wish I could just say “I don’t know” without getting some strange ass look Yet, I feel so lost when I just say I’m a student. I feel as though that with end of the year approaching I will have nothing to show for it. During my time, I have volunteered, in hopes that it would pull me toward my purpose, and create some meaning for my life. That didn’t get me closer. I don’t know what will put me on track with my life’s purpose.
It seems to be that purpose is intertwined with those around you. Whether it’s your family or friends or just those who need a voice, it’s all connected. I do leave it in the hands of God and hope that it comes at the right time, in the right way for me to recognize it and I hope that when it comes, it allows me to move mountains, connects deeply to people and that my life is my purpose and my purpose is my life.