There’s a cliche that’s oft-repeated in books, movies, and poems:
“So long as we remember them, the people, places, and things that we hold dear, will continue to live on through our memories.”
The truth of the matter is, my memory is faulty at best; at the age of 8, my home seemed grander than it really was, at the age of 16, high school felt more nerve-racking than it should have been, and at the age of 24, I believed myself to be everlasting.
When the pace of life is increasingly sped up, and the images that make up my memories have been stitched together across four decades and two continents; I find myself wishing I had something more concrete to look reflect to. Some form of storage to capture and hold my day-to-day desires, soliloquies, and the occasional nugget of wisdom.
Hence, these podcasts and blog. From the coarse refugee camps of Hong Kong to the polished suburb of Pasadena; I believe I have a story to tell, and I believe it’s a story worth hearing and remembering.
Perhaps you do too.
I ran barefooted down the rocky unevenly paved street outside of a cluster of two-to-three stories buildings; my feet were dirty and my tiny legs were covered with layers of coal-like filth. I was seven, living in Guangzhou, China; enjoying a city life that most Chinese would consider fortunate. My brother and I are not privileged, but we had no worries, no fears or limits. The sky is as reachable and blue to us as it is to others. The greater outdoor is our playhouse and our little legs would cycle endlessly carrying us through streets and alleys chasing each other or other kids in the neighborhood.
When it’s time to get back, we always knew where home is – three flights of stairs up to the top floor of an old brick building covered with spotty green mildew on the outside. Father is always the gentlest man I ever know; his soft smile combined with the gentle squeeze of my little hands provided comfort and protection. Mother is always rugged and loud. She is strong and a capable woman; in her own rights, she is often very vocal about her beliefs – a trait in a woman that I find myself attracted to, as I realized later in my adult life.
The days of innocence are long behind me. Today I am a middle-aged man with a family and two young boys of my own. A career in finance has served me well economically but sometimes it leaves me pondering: ‘what if’. Other times, usually after a long day of work plus the kids’ daily routines, I simply look forward to cratering my favorite spot on the couch in front of the TV, to catch another episode of brainless yet funny ‘Big Bang Theory’ or ‘Impractical Jokers’.
Home for me is a modest-sized house in an affluent neighborhood in Southern California, USA. By most standards this is very respectful; it checks all the ‘must have’ boxes of a typical Chinese American family. Nonetheless, it is the joy, laughter, sadness, grief, and the love that I shared with my wife, kids, family, and friends in this house, for the past 11 years, that completes the definition of home. I am proud and grateful for this very modest triumph; it is a long way from the barefooted boy that I once knew.
I was born in the year of the snake – the astrological gibberish never interested me but I find the physiology of a snake resembles me quite a bit…and perhaps, most of us as well. Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin. As I reminisce about my minuscule seven-year-old legs, my thought transpires into the image of a rapidly turning flipbook of my legs tirelessly sprinting through the pages, transforming them into greater mass and finer muscle tones; as if my legs have shed many layers of skins to the become the way they are today. Through this medium, whether it’s for my own therapy or for your entertainment, I will be sharing my stories…so we can laugh, learn and get re-inspire!