October 01, 2008

Turning up the heat

Today I cried on the walk home from my teacher's place. I usually walk the 1/4 mile jaunt through the alley to our place without much incident. The ladies knitting on the ground beside their giant woks, stirring it's contents from time to time. The washing woman hanging her customer's sheets up to dry. The school children doing their arithmetic while eating bowls of noodles. The funky young men around a table, gambling in a cloud of cigarette smoke. The old, old men sitting around the Buddhist fire outside the temple, chanting in matching blue smocks. I usually observe these things from a distance, even though I am so close to their woks and laundry that I can smell the hot bricks from their fires. But it is amazing how detached one can be from her surroundings when she wants want to be, whether for sanity or survival, or just out of ignorance and immaturity. Whatever my reasons for detaching, they fell away today. Today I was there. My walking slowed almost to a crawl as I took it all in. I suddenly realized how foreign I was. It hit me that I live in Asia, and I am not Asian. I don't fit in here.

And I'm not supposed to. That's part of the point.

And so I began to cry. And I began to turn a very important corner. There is something happening in me. Something good. And though it burns a bit, I am very grateful to feel the heat from the fires of refinement once again.