My five lives in Taiwan, so far


As I pedal over the train tracks, I glance over the dark industrial plain in the direction of Fengshan train station. As per my habit, I think something in the line of, “I’m still here – in Taiwan.”

Then it hit me: That’s nonsense – literally not true.

The person who arrived here in January 1999 no longer exists. He didn’t leave or die … he was reincarnated into another person. And that person reincarnated into another person, and so on. All of these people, as biological continuations of the person, “Barend Smit” (better known as “Brand Smit”), and “heirs” to the name, were legally and morally responsible for any misconduct or agreements entered into by earlier incarnations of “Barend Smit”. Later incarnations also continued to get praise for good things that “he” did, and are still intimately connected to certain people – who are also more recent incarnations of earlier versions, and all on their own personal journeys.

I reckon I have had five lives in Taiwan: Brand who arrived here in January 1999 – single, smoker, dreamer, little angry with the world … who reincarnated, or was transformed into Brand of 2001 – creative, ambitious, slightly manic … who was reincarnated or transformed into Brand of 2005 – serious romantic relationship … which, in turn, reincarnated or was transformed into Brand of 2006 – desperate to provide a better life for himself and the special woman in his life, obsessed about making money from home … who eventually reincarnated or was transformed into the most recent incarnation, Brand of 2011 – married, non-smoker, once again dedicated to creative projects, still serious about financial prosperity but also careful not to waste his time and money.