The nostalgia of the old life.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

-Lao Tzu

I sometimes get asked if I miss it.  By it, I mean either being in China, or being an ESL teacher.  Nearly ten year years after the fact, of course the answer is yes.  Nostalgia always paints a beautiful portrait of memories. Despite some of the issues that arose while I was there, it was one of the most positive and obviously life changing experiences of my life.  In a way, being there was kind of like living at Disneyland (or so I’d assume).

Never eat yellow snow.  But you can drink it!!  From a bottle!

Never eat yellow snow. But you can drink it!! From a bottle!  Only in China!

The only real responsibility I had was simply to show up for work five days a week.  Not having to show up until 2pm also allowed for nights that would remain difficult to remember (and there were many of those).  There was one time when I actually had to show up for a class in the morning after a night of beer recreational beer drinking where I spent most of my time sitting down.  I was the marketable product in an occupational field primarily devoid of an HR department.  Needless to say, there was plenty of leeway.

There is also the follow up question as soon as I take a breath long enough for the asker to slip another one in.  Would I ever consider going back.  That is a much more difficult question to answer.  One of the hard lessons I had when I came back to Canada that while most buildings and structures remain the same, the contents of them can change wildly.  The substance of almost everything and everyone I had know was different.  This lesson applies even more so if I were to apply it to China.  You have likely heard about the “breakneck” speed of how China has grown and how fast things can change there.  Well, it’s true.  Buildings come and go almost as much as the people do.  I know that everything would be different if I were to return.  The question that I would need to ask myself if an opportunity arose where I might consider going back is this; am I going because I want what I’m looking forward to some new challenges or experiences, or am I returning simply in search of what used to be?  If it is the latter, then I am only setting myself up for disappointment.  So the only answer I have to that question is ‘we’ll see what happens.’  The other life lesson I have is that my future is never anything remotely close to a foregone conclusion.

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