Coming to the end of an adventure, no matter how short, always seems to provoke a period of introspection in me. The length of the period of self-reflection seems to increase in duration corresponding to the length of the journey. Basically my entire final semester of college consisted of pre-dawn mornings spent drinking coffee in my dorm room staring out the window and wondering what in God’s name I was going to do next. I spent the last two months of my time in Korea after returning from celebrating Christmas with my family in America counting the “lasts:” the selling of my possessions, the last times I would visit my favorite hang-outs, the last time I would say goodbye to kids at the English village. Just two weeks ago, the curtains closed on my most recent adventure, in rural Yunlin County, Taiwan. It was only about four months long, but it felt far longer.
Come to think of it, I recall feeling much the same thing as I neared the end of my job in Daegu. My two years in South Korea felt like five; my four months in Douliu City felt like a full year. A recent Washington Times article about how our perception of time changes (that is, speeds up) as we get older struck a particular chord. The main reason for this effect is, predictably, that we experience fewer new things as we get older and, consequently, our initial sense of wonder becomes numbed. In the two and a half years that have elapsed since I made the decision to live abroad, perhaps the most significant life lesson has been on the value of new experiences. It’s of course impossible to recapture that sense of awe we felt as mere babes upon first hearing our mother’s voice, or first feeling the wind on our faces, or seeing our first whirling ceiling fans. Nevertheless, I daresay that with a little intentionality, we can mitigate this tendency for our lives to fall into the sorts of routines that make it nearly impossible to distinguish one day from the next.
Anyway, in the eight weeks or so since I’ve posted an update about my life in Taiwan, much has happened. The last day of school was June 30, which meant that the two weeks leading up to that were full of goodbyes to the students at the different schools where I taught. The last two weeks before the end of my contract consisted of various day camps at elementary schools around Yunlin County and also a fair amount of time just sitting in the office. After my last summer camp on July 9, I moved into my new apartment in Taipei and made final preparations to fly home for a two-week visit with the family in southeast Oklahoma, which is where I am now. Feel free to check out my Instagram account to see more pictures from the past few weeks, if you’re so inclined. This Friday, I fly back to Taipei via Hong Kong and report to my new school for the next year Monday morning. In short, I’m once again preparing to launch out into uncharted waters and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m not quite sure what the next year holds, but I’m confident it will feel like much, much more than the mere 365 days it will encompass. In any case, that’s all for now, friends. Cheers!