They say it’s a particularly inauspicious year to marry this year, but somehow it doesn’t feel so. Robert, my junior high school friend, is getting married this weekend, and last weekend, Bennet, my high school crush got married. Though not particularly crushed by the news, it sure felt weird, and it wasn’t only because of who the groom was. Sitting at a table with friends from NEHS (one of the three high schools I went to), while it was nice to see them after so many years, I felt like something’s changed. More like, someone’s changed. And the person who changed was…me.
I was at NEHS my freshman year, but most of my friends were seniors. I always looked up to these sempais of mine. They were all very smart and I always loved hanging out with them and listening to them. Whatever they talked about, it seemed more interesting than what my own classmates were talking about. I guess I kind of saw them as teachers, sort of. But not anymore. Everyone added 14 years to their lives, but not necessarily the same number of years to their sprit and soul. I’m not saying I’ve become that much wiser, but I certainly think my soul has aged more than many of them. They may be very successful in their career, already have a family or have traveled the world three times around, but some of them still just seem so...”young.”
What does it feel like to have an older soul? When I see someone gossiping incessantly, complaining nonstop, or picking a bone with someone else over the littlest of things, I say to myself, “give them time, they’ll grow up.” I don’t get annoyed, I just look at them kind of like I would at a younger brother or sister, except they may be older than me. These days, I can pretty much sense if a person has a young or old soul without them saying much. I just didn’t really realize that I’ve become this soul that’s either gotten or is getting “old,” until this wedding.
Over a Neapolitan pizza genovese at Primo last night, Ann said, “Maybe they didn’t have to grow because they didn’t have to. You grow when you are faced with adversity and suffering.” I think she couldn’t have been more right. My NEHS friends are very, very intelligent and talented. From just Bennet’s class of 12 or so, Tom already won a Golden Horse Award, Caroline is the head of Google’s communications department in this part of the world, May-yi is one of the heads of National Geographic Channel also in this region, Bennet’s a senior engineer at TSMC, and many others are in high level management positions at other companies. Some of them are so smart they didn’t have to suffer much, nor saw much they would call “adversity.”
I guess that makes me, the less intelligent one, a person who had to suffer and really fight to overcome hurdles.
When I was little, while I received a lot of love from Mom and Dad, I also received a lot of stress. Michael and Daniel tell me that they’ve never seen me smile as a kid. I never noticed! Maybe I was too busy making myself miserable. Then as I was about to graduate from business school, I realized that I really didn’t like business and I certainly didn’t think finance and economics was interesting at all, so I decided to walk my own path and come into the media industry in Taiwan. I was turned down many times before finally landing my first job at FTV, working as a part of the English news team. A year later, I was transferred to the mainstream Chinese news, and that’s when all hell seemed to break loose for me. In addition to having to report in Mandarin, which I hardly read/spoke/wrote, face two deadlines a day, anchor in Taiwanese, which I knew even less of (my Taiwanese ability was the equivalent of a Californian’s fluency of Spanish – taco, burrito), I had a boss who was a medicating manic depressive, a chief editor who seemed to swear even more and that much louder than a sailor at all hours of the day, and a bunch of cameramen who loved to bully, scare and verbally abuse me any chance they got. Now I can crank out as many news stories as they throw at me, anchor in Taiwanese without losing sleep the night before, selectively hear what my bosses say/shout, and even gained the respect of the cameramen, including the one who very publicly ridiculed me. Heck, these days, I’m even OK with food or sleep when I can’t get it. But most importantly, I learned to be conscious of happiness, and I make an effort to be happy.
Old soul, young soul, I guess it doesn’t matter as long as I am a happy soul. I’m glad for what I’ve been through, and what I have yet to go through. Boy, I sound like a masochist…
Are you a happy soul? If you are a happy and old soul and are interesting and can speak English, please email me. Let's have dinner. :)