I scratch my head, a little discouraged. That’s five times I start the writing of this text, these words ringing the end of my years as a teacher in China.
Five times I cannot go beyond the first sentence:
“So here we are, it’s been a year.”
All my knowledge ends there. The rest is just fog.
I have a thousand contradictory impressions, a range of emotions that bicker on one side and the other, any more real than the others.
This year in China will have passed like a gust of wind. It feels like yesterday the day that I arrived in Beijing, with my backpack, and very few expectations. I wrote to a Canadian friend (met in Istanbul) who had landed in China two days earlier, coming here to study for one year:
“Hey man, I just arrived in Beijing, you want to do something? Did you visit a little? I have about five days in the capital.”
His roommate in the university residences decided to rent an apartment; he allowed me to use the vacant bed, and two weeks later I was an English teacher.
A year later, my five days in Beijing come to an end.
“You could spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future. But all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based on either love, or fear.
So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.”
– Jim Carrey
A year later, I leave with a horizon shaped as a nebula. Huge, blurry, almost empty.
Mesmerizing, most of all.
Because if I take the road, it’s with more questions than ever, the eternal “tomorrow” located at the top of my list.
Let it be said, the general concept of “studies → work / career → retirement” molds most paths that you can follow. And on the eve of my departure, I realize it in a whole new way. I have made a small step off the beaten track and I already feel unbalanced, unsure.
I deeply want to continue. I suddenly caress the idea of a long journey, but I doubt. My job? My career? My loves? My family? I reorganize my backpack, but I never seem to find enough pockets to carry all these aspirations around.
I close the bag. I sigh…
On one side: my follies. The call of the sea. A little something fuzzy, dreamed of. On the other: an innovative master degree. A relevant internship, a probable job at the end of this paper and in an extremely interesting area…
The dilemma is genuine.
Obviously, the nomadic lifestyle fascinates me more than classrooms. But to take a chance, to shut your eyes and trust life is not easy. When you are putting – gambling – in a part of your future, it’s more risky. More frightening.
Maybe I will find a good opportunity, maybe a poor one. Maybe debts. Maybe legal problems in a country where I can’t even read the language.
Or maybe a small, tiny piece of existence, woven just for me.
“You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
– Jim Carrey
Readjusting the straps of my bag on my back, that’s the phrase echoing in my head. An idea that my father already touched with his “What do you have to lose?” Or “If it doesn’t work, what will happen? Probably the same as if you don’t try at all…”
As I close the door of this apartment for the last time, I am left with more questions and fewer answers than ever.
At the same time, I have never had so much confidence.
So this is the spirit I am in while I leave for more adventures, Asia in the eyes. Less certain than ever, but more serene. More curious.