I don’t have a resolution this year.
A lot has happened to me in the past few days, but all of it has changed my perspective on life, if only slightly.
Here’s the rundown on my past week or so:
My friend and fellow Kyushu JET and I went to Hong Kong! She was born there and has been there before many times, but she grew up in the States. She studied abroad there a few years ago, so we met up with a friend of hers from way back then.
We packed in tons of activities each day. We ate congee and hung out in Taipo, ate egg tarts, went shopping in Mong Kok, ate dim sum, shoved through tons of people on the streets, on buses, and in shops. And that was just the first day. We also got our hair cut that day, and I was pretty nervous as to what would happen to my hair, since I could understand ZERO of the Cantonese that was being spoken. But my haircut was so amazing and so incredibly cheap that I told my friend I’m going to fly that hairdresser in from Hong Kong every time I need her services.
The next day, we went to Star Avenue and ate pastries, took pictures sparring with the amazing and handsome Bruce Lee statue, and trekked to Victoria Peak, one of the biggest attractions of the city. We ate Pho and bubble waffles and took about three different methods of transportation to get back to the city to have (a somewhat belated) Christmas dinner with my friend’s family. They were such kind hosts that I felt as if I had been adopted in myself. It was so nice to see a multicultural family and gives me something to aspire to.
Our hotel was walking distance from a museum I wanted to see, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. They opened a Bruce Lee exhibit that will run for a few years, but I couldn’t possibly miss my chance to see it. I took Taekwondo back in America, and it is still one of my passions, even if I can’t practice it like I could before. Martial arts are just so good for stress relief, and Bruce Lee was just such an interesting person, talented writer, and all around good man, that through his inspiration, I was able to work hard not only at TKD but at life.
Here’s one of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes:
After visiting the museum, we raced to meet my friend’s family for lunch at a pasta place. It was so good but we were way too full afterwards, so we walked around the mall and shopped for souvenirs for a while. We also looked at Christmas decorations and went to Times Square in HK. We were exhausted when we got back, but bought ice cream to eat in our hotel room anyway.
For our last day, I met up with a friend from my hometown who also has family in Hong Kong, and we gabbed about how life is after graduating and getting a job. Then we met up with our HK friend one last time, did karaoke, shopped at a huge Japanese-related mall, went to the Ladies Market, and went to a mall in Taipo for the New Year’s Countdown. I counted down the new year in Cantonese and it was an unforgettable experience, even though we were exhausted and sad to be leaving already.
The next day, we got up early and went home. We were able to fly through Taipei both going and coming back, and it was good for me because although I don’t understand much Cantonese, I have been studying Mandarin for some time now. I picked up on a lot of Cantonese while we were in HK, and I even ordered food and bubble tea by myself. That’s an accomplishment I’m proud of, considering I had barely even heard anything in spoken Cantonese my entire life, and then there I was speaking it to a native. Traveling is one of the best ways to show yourself what you’re made of.
My friend and I lazed around for a few days after coming back, but we did have a stroke of productivity long enough to make dinner and bake cookies. She had to go back to her prefecture today, so we went to the Pokemon Center and ate one last Taiwanese style meal at Din Tai Fung. After she left, my friend who studied abroad at my university came down to have dinner with me. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year, so it was strange but really good to be able to talk about people we both knew.
Talking with him, as well as coming home to Japan, made me realize how lucky I am. I complained a lot last year about how teaching was stressing me out and how I wanted to get out and travel more, but seeing a new part of the world always makes me appreciate where I’m from or where I live at the moment a little bit more. I already miss the craziness of Hong Kong, but I love the calm of my city. I saw a few of my students pass me yesterday on the street and remembering that they are looking forward to my classes gives me the push I need to suck it up and work hard. They are my responsibility, and I need to start taking the action to get better, because it won’t happen overnight.
So although I might not have a resolution this year, I know the things I want to do. I want to read more books. Travel to more places. Talk with more people, and listen with an open mind and a patient heart. I want to be proactive and create better lessons for my students. I want to meet new people and have a bigger impact on them. I want to edit and get to work on publishing my novel. And I want to smile more times than I cry. I think we can all strive to do better this year. Look on the positive side. Show up to work with an attitude to change the world, and maybe, if you work hard enough, it might actually start to bend.