Last thoughts before Taiwan … First thoughts in Taiwan

Last thoughts before Taiwan

Tuesday, 29 December 1998

I sit here and wonder if there were alternatives, all the way back in April. Not because of regret, just kind of as a necessary mental exercise.

Do I regret anything? It’s tempting to say “yes”, but it wouldn’t hold up to rigorous scrutiny. So, no. Here are the reasons. I have taken the most important step conceivable by facing my creditors. Within a few days after returning from Korea, I was attempting to negotiate reconciliation. I have seen most of my acquaintances and friends, and I have made the acquaintance of some new ones. I spent six weeks at home, and then for six months I worked for a company that is mainly focused on making money. I have experienced first-hand what I have always thought of corporate life. I worked and lived in Johannesburg for six months, forever alleviating my ignorance about the place. I truly feel more informed and more experienced because of this period. I have also seen many places and experienced things that I had missed during my “isolation” in Korea.

But that is to paint a pretty picture for the sake of not regretting anything. For the sake of honesty, I also have to flip the painting to show a little bit of the other side.

In terms of power – which I once again define as the ability to make choices and to act on these choices, and to not be dependent on other people, I was a big time loser for the past seven or eight months. Big time. In actual fact, I’m embarrassing myself by still trying to fight back, by continuing to insist on defending my dignity.

The truth is that I am currently more powerless than I have ever been in my life. For all the importance that power, independence, dignity and pride had for me eight months ago, it’s ironic that I have lost so much in all these areas! For this reason, and this reason alone, I would say that I regret that I did not try to get another EFL job at the end of June.

But, there’s no point to regret, so I’m not going to waste time on it. I did what I did. I learned some things, and a few times I was knocked to the ground. But at least I came out for the fight, right? Even though it was reluctantly, and even if I don’t exactly look like a hero at the moment.

What’s next?

I have seen, in case I had forgotten, what financial powerlessness looks like. Not again. Not if it depends on me. Taking everything into account, this year has been one of the fullest and richest years of my life, even though I am leaving it injured and poorly armed. (One can almost say that I came into the year like a German soldier in 1939, and I’m going out like a Russian soldier in 1917.) A lost year it was not, for I struggled too much and survived too many skirmishes. The rest of the thousand-mile journey that I have started will continue. Two steps forward and one step back. But I shall continue.

Long live my own revolution!

First thoughts in Taiwan

Wednesday, 27 January 1999

Fengshan City, Kaohsiung County

On the subject of commitment: If you devote yourself to a Single Cause, it must be part of your life on a daily basis otherwise your dedication will start fading. You have to devote yourself actively to this cause on a daily basis – not necessarily exclusively, but actively.

Later more about Fengshan City, Taiwan …