not lost

No, I’m not lost. I insisted this to myself. I just never knew where I was going.

Not while I was in college in China – on one hand I was hoping to get student visa to come to the United States, on the other hand I had to think about the real possibility of staying in China, maybe drop out of the college and get into a trade. My life was a total mass. But the world around me changed and saved the day. I was not particularly depressed or worried then, because 1) I was young, no one expected much of me. 2) I didn’t know better, and grew up in a warm protected family and under communist ruling, I had a false sense of safety in believing that I would be somehow taken care of. 3) As people I knew were jailed and exiled for political causes, I was secretly relieved that I didn’t have a goal or a vision in comparison to them to cause any hardships to myself. Then it was the life changing moment when I did get the long sought after visa to come to the United States. In retrospect, especially after I read the book “Outlier”, I know now that my “luck” was not “luck”, it was the result of the United States’ sympathetic gesture to all Chinese college students under the political backdrops of the time. But of course I didn’t know at the time, and the incident firmed up my belief that “God loves me and He will always take care of me”.

I still did not know where I was going when I was in college in New York. But that was also forgivable. Language and cultural barriers turned me into a quiet introvert. Even to this day, I feel that unless my back was against the wall, I won’t assert myself in front of people. More over, it was literally the very first time in my life that I was faced with having to pick my own destiny. I sucked at that, as I never had any practice of exercising free will. With limited understanding of the world and available choices, I studied Economics and Statistics to build a foundation for my future and got involved in public service when I didn’t even know what it entailed. All-in-all I felt that although I was not “together”, but given the circumstance I did the best I could.

If I knew what I wanted out of this life, obviously I could have done better. But by then, I had developed dependency – on God as I thought that he would give me signs and carry me through to my destiny.

Somehow I finished grad school, found a high-paying job and started to interact with people and travel the world. My confidence grew. I was, for the first time in my life, part of the “in-crowd”. I didn’t understand then that I was working with Europeans and eccentric Americans, and that I never did truly fit in to the mainstream America. That aside, my life-view at the time and ever since has been – your path has been set for you, you could try to figure out where you are going, to make your journey more enlightened, but you could also just go with the flow. The end result would be just the same.

That’s why I’m saying that I’m not lost. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. I’m in my own sailboat and waiting for the next current or wind to take me somewhere. Or not. Yeah, idly waiting, day after day.

A boat comes by with many bystanders. They cheer me on. “Way to go!” They say, about my job, art, travel, family, whatever. I fake my smile and wave them off.

Another boat comes by, asks, “Are you lost?”

“No, no.” I explain that my stale progress is by design.

Yes, all I’m doing is to “kill time”, to kill time so I won’t be dying out of boredom before the death of the physical fresh. To escape to the imaginary world because what happens in the real world does not matter.

And of course it DOES matter…

The God who would always take care of me has not visited for a while. He had come a few times over the years and had guided me on the right path, such as marrying my husband. And I so wanted a hint from Him right now as I face big decisions in my life. He still loves me and cares about me, right? Please, don’t just leave me on the boat as I am getting anxious.

I was taking about the topic of “killing time” with a friend of mine, and he could not comprehend the concept. For him, and most people, they are at the driving seat of their lives, and seem to know where they are going. I feel like I’m an annoying passenger on a long journey – not contributing to driving or giving directions, just sat there either complaining or day-dreaming.

But, I’m not lost. That part I know.

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6 thoughts on “not lost

  1. i kind of relate because even though i grew up here in the states, i kind of just let life happen to me and it’s worked out alright, especially when i’ve made a few choices here and there. i’ve come to learn it is important to make choices and to take life head on instead of waiting but i can see why that would be difficult for you. don’t give up on God because He goes silent on purpose just like He speaks when it’s necessary. as long as you’re not dissatisfied, then i’d say keep floating along – it seems to work alright for you.

    • Thanks. I’m not dissatisfied with life. I’m very grateful for all the wonderful experiences I was able to have. I am, however, dissatisfied with myself. I could be more focused, use time more efficiently and do a lot better. I know I can. Except, I don’t know what that “better” is. So I’m not floating as happily as I should be. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. In my earlier years, 20s and 30s I pushed myself to excel, and I did. Turning 40 and I felt the need to give voice to any injustices, however slight they might be. At 50 I decided to take a bit of a breather. My kids were off to college and I felt freer with my time. Last year I turned sixty. I finally feel ‘grown up’ and I am ready to experience life to the fullest. I no longer fear growing old, I know that I am now a senior. Freedom at last and joy to the fullest. Yes, there are sorrows, expectations still not met, but there is power in knowing that I lived my life doing the best I could with what I had. There were the meager times and the excessive means, and my spirit grew through both those tidal changes. Today, having less means having more. I find my quietest moments to be my richest experiences.

  3. There is something to be said with just ‘going with the flow.’ While I have been very lucky to have lived the life I have had, I still have these moments where I feel that I was just going through the motions. Wasting life.

    A mini-crisis, I suppose that everyone feels at some point, asking “why am I doing this?” I think such a crisis is good, as it means you are looking for a new path…something creative. For me, it was simply writing more and pushing my photography…trying to find the flow in life.

    The words of Laozi (่€ๅญ) probably helped the most, by realizing that if I do what is natural and what feels right, things get done. In takes less effort for greater reward.

    Where is China are you from? I have worked in Hangzhou for years (based in Hong Kong), although hoping to spend more time in the States (especially the summers!). Nice post!

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