Living in Taiwan has brought about many special experiences for me, happenings that would have never taken place had I not ventured abroad. I am grateful that I made the decision to make that journey nearly 5 years ago. However, I have to admit that I would not have stated such gratitude shortly after coming here.
Upon arriving here, I discovered that things were not as I had expected them to be. I had visited Taiwan before and thought I knew what I was in for, but I really wasn’t prepared for the challenges that lay before me. Or, was I? At any rate, I plunged on through it all, weathering the cultural shock storms as it were, and came to the realization that you cannot really know a place until you’ve lived there.
I had traveled to many locales in this big world of ours, and seen many eye-opening sights along the way, but all that taught me little about how other cultures truly are. Frankly, I have only learned in the years living here that I haven’t got a clue about how people from other cultures think. I could live a thousand lifetimes and never get a grasp on another culture, UNLESS one of those lifetimes was from beginning to end in that culture. (Well, at least “from beginning” for sure.) Journeying around the world I was, after all, merely a tourist.
Fast forward to this year and you’ll see that I have settled into this lifestyle, like breaking in a new lounge chair. Sitting comfortably now, I thoroughly enjoy my surroundings, not the least of which is my new house.
A few months ago, Shu Mei, the boys, and I moved into our new home. Tending towards an American style, our new digs are a thousand times better than where we lived before. Finally, Billy and Tyley have a room spacious enough to allow for their various game playing. And, Shu Mei has her dream kitchen, complete with all the major appliances and oodles of storage. These were just two of the things we went without in our old home. There have been other material niceties accumulated during this past year (like a new car), but none of it adds up to my greatest joy – Billy and Tyley.
Billy and Tyley are growing up fast, way too fast if you ask me. I try to spend as much time with them as I can, trying to enjoy this whirlwind ride as long as it lasts. They demonstrate a great deal of compassion towards me, something that I greatly needed after my faulty relationship with my firstborn, Cameron.
As you know, I have always regretted not being able to have raised my son from my first marriage, Cameron. This is something that has weighed heavily upon me on a daily basis. It is something that I will undoubtedly carry with me throughout the rest of my existence. I am deeply saddened when I think about it, how I could have been there on a daily basis, as his loving father, if the situation had been different. It was a poor situation and I will forever feel sorry for the one it hurt the most, my dear Cameron.
I am doing my best to not repeat those mistakes of the past with my two sons Billy and Tyley. I may not be the best father in the world (although I earnestly strive to be), but I am as accessible to them as any working father ever could be. Almost exclusively, from the moment I come home from work until I put them to bed at night, I spend my time with them. I don’t want to miss a thing. Actually, I feel that I could be a pretty good Mr. Mom, if Shu Mei wanted to switch roles with me.
Family time is of paramount importance to me. Certainly, I get frustrated when the boys get out of control with their rambunctious playing, but I never let it get to the point where I lose my cool with them. I strive to set down the guidelines, with accompanying penalties if they are not kept, to Billy and Tyley in a calm and sober manner. Likewise, I deliver said penalties with the same demeanor.
Because I put so much importance on spending time with Billy and Tyley, I quit teaching every night as soon as Billy was born. For the better part of the first year here, I was working virtually every waking hour, trying desperately to make our cram school a success. That proved to be of little use, as the school went belly up and I was forced to seek employment at a distant high school.
Luckily, I have been employed at a nearby high school going on three years now. I make the 16-minute commute every weekday morning and go home promptly at 4:30 p.m., save for working one required evening.
I applaud all of my friends who are still working at the airlines. That was a job that was more than I could handle. The truth be told, I was loathing it a mere five years into the decade I was there. So, for 5 years I suffered through it. Yes, I envy those who could take the abuse dished out by the public and still come to work with high spirits. That takes a special kind of character trait, one that I didn’t possess.
Life as a teacher has been wonderful. The pay is peanuts, but that’s not where the rewards are. I enjoy helping students to find the desire within themselves to progress, to make each day better than the one before it. I cannot imagine a profession that could give me as much self-worth and sense of accomplishment as this one has. Making money has its positives, but leading a well-balanced life is what I am all about now.
Someone wrote me recently, stating that my weblog entries were full of angst. That is most undoubtedly true, as I have felt a lot of angst in my life. Still, I hope that will change and I look forward to a bigger and brighter future in the years to come. I wish all my loved ones the very best that life has to offer during this special season. I hope that this message finds them well. If not, I hope that they will remember that things are not always as bad as they might seem at the moment. And, if they actually are really that bad, there is always hope that they will get better. Take care, all.