Personal Agenda: Postscript I

I made the noble claim at the beginning that this collection of material [1999 to 2003] is dedicated to a few special people. For the record I should add that I also compiled this book for myself – some administrative matters had to be completed before I could move to any other place on this planet. For years I threatened to gather all the pieces I wrote, and all the pieces I started but never finished, in one folder. Essays I wrote on the computer had to be printed out, e-mails I wrote had to be downloaded from the Hotmail server, and I wanted to type a few thoughts scribbled in notebooks and journals.

This project is at an elementary level good office administration – to check off items on a things-to-do list. But it has also become of existential importance for me to throw something on the table and say, “Behold – this is one of the things I did with my time.”

I also suspected that I may, in the broader picture that such a project presents of your life, discover old insights I have forgotten, or ideas that may derail existing plans.

At the end I succeeded to some extent in all of the above objectives.

The process of reading and processing material even delivered some other, unexpected fruits. I didn’t expect to see a golden thread weaving through four years of musings and ramblings, but I do see more reasons than ever why it was necessary to come to Taiwan, and why it was necessary to get stuck here for so long.

What do you do when you are done with a project like this? You can start by cleaning your apartment … pulling a broom across the porch for the first time in months … taking a stroll through a supermarket … but then what? Naturally you start working on another project, or you get back to the project that had been put on hold without warning several months ago.

Whatever I do next, I hope it will be possible to move away from these self-centred Matters of the Heart – at least when I write something. Questions shall certainly still hang in the air, and I will still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night muttering a provisional answer in the direction of the ceiling. But there are indeed other topics that can keep me busy: the health benefits of Asian food, the reasons why you should drink at least a few cups of green tea every day, and my theory of why Taiwanese people are such poor drivers.

If I am lucky, I will only occasionally wonder if all these alternative themes take me closer to a place I’ve always wanted to be.

May 2003