Thursday, March 5, 2009


It was hard to begin writing before, because it has been such a long time since I last wrote anything. Where to start, what to say... there is so much to express in words about life and my recent experiences. At the same time, I don't want to just dump everything on paper, or worse, come off in any way that's pretentious.

At first, I wanted to title this blog entry as "Back Once Again," as I had the song by Fat Boy Slim come to mind (my friend Charlie did a really cool video edit using this song, haha). Then, I continued by writing about time, how the past and the future don't exist -- that everything is now. I wanted to link it to how I feel that I am in the same place again -- Tianjin, China. Next, I wanted to say that, even though I am here once again (Tianjin, China), things have changed.

Well, that was a lot easier to say, looking back in hindsight and admitting that I have no intention of writing anything so pretentious, something full of fluff and extra words to fill up a sheet of paper; you know, the kind of stuff you write in college to meet the 4-5 page requirement for your assignment.

I've also thought off and on about my friend, Bruno. It might be easier to write about someone else at the moment, but then again, I don't want to embarass that person by making him or her the center of attention. I'll just say that Bruno has influenced my thoughts about blogging. He's right in that one should conscientiously be humble when writing; that one should not try to come off as so glorifying of his or her experiences. And, well, I feel that maybe I made that mistake before -- that I felt so glorified in my experiences as a traveler in China. But, the reality is, I am like many people who are searching for more in life.

So many planes criss-cross the world everyday, taking different people to different parts of the world. What I accomplished last year in China is no greater or less than what other people have done in their lives as well; and are doing now as I am writing this blog. For this reason and more, I apologize for coming off in any way arrogant or pretentious.

One of my goals for this year, and for the rest of my life, is to be a much humbler person. I never want to think of myself as being better than others... nor do I want to treat others as lesser than me.

China has been a very good challenge and test for me to break down any arrogance or high-minded thinking I have previously held, to develop modesty and be more humble in thought. Each and every day, I am met with someone who looks to be of lower socioeconomic status than me; whether it be their clothing, or the way they comb their hair; or how they behave. Overall, it's very easy to spot who's got money and who's got nothing.

A lot of people here, unfortunately, are part of the "who's got nothing" and it's very apparent, if only on the outside. As I've said before, most people here either walk or commute by bus or bike. If you're in a city like Tianjin, you won't see people with name brand clothing; and if you do, it's most likely a fake. You'll notice that a lot of people here have aged very badly; faces weathered and hands worn out; darkened skin and grey hair. Basically, life is and has been rough in China (at least for those who aren't wealthy businessmen living in fast developing cities like Shanghai or Beijing).

I don't want to draw out this idea anymore, but I'll simply say that I think twice when I see these people who, in my opinion, dress poorly, or act crudely (like spitting on the ground). Initially, and before, I will want to look down upon these people; maybe think of them in a "barbaric" sense (or, as some Chinese people joke, as the poor farmers of the countryside). But I remind myself that these people grow our food; they clean our streets and restaurants; they cook our food; they build our apartments and roads; they build amazing cities and highways. For the most part, they give people like me, and those who are fortunate, a more comfortable and privileged life.

Valdo once told me the same for my own country -- that Hispanics and black people (along with other "minorities") are the ones responsible for the development of the U.S.; for the wonderful parks, zoos, swimming pools and neighborhoods; for the convenience of living, such as driving on streets and living in houses/apartments.

Well, that's one point that I would like to make in my attempts to be humbler; to remind myself that I'm not so sexy and great (at all); that I should be more thankful for others who have created the human world (of cities and skyscrapers) around me.

For now on, I want to devote each blog entry to some aspect of China, or to anything really... so long as I am not the center of attention. I think, before, this blog was focused on me and my rantings; rantings about how I saw China and the way I think about politics and stuff (immature thoughts and viewpoints, I feel).

I used to also think this would be my way of keeping in touch with people, but 1.) we have been blessed with email and skype, so I will keep in touch with you all that way 2.) I don't believe in somebody writing about themselves -- it's too self-glorifying (unless you are a very accomplished person, like Benjamin Franklin). I will also try to be more concise and less drawn out -- I just want to introduce something that is meaningful and interesting to me.

Well, for those who have read this blog and have been so kind and patient as to give me your attention -- I don't want to waste it on myself any further...