Recent events have made me realize how incredibly blessed I am just to be young and (somewhat) healthy and able to run and jump and play and do irresponsible things. It’s amazing to think that to run faster or to push harder is to simply will it so. Blood is churned, veins are filled, and muscles are flexed in one seamlessly coordinated operation.
Recent events have also made me incredibly frustrated and heartbroken for those who are suffering in their own bodies, be it from old age or disability or disease. To have youthful moxie and a spry spirit but be bound by a failing body and unable to capitalize upon it - it’s torture, slow and painful.
In our naïveté, we think of our youth as unending and our bodies as infallible. But as enjoyable as life is up at the peak of physical prowess, descent is inevitable. It’s a losing battle to gauge happiness by health, to anchor our hope to the leaking hulls that are our physical bodies.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Cor. 4:16
May 2014 be just as dynamic, just as uncomfortable, and just as terrifying. May I approach each new day with ambition and gospel mindedness. And may I be steadfast in the faith through it all.
So we watched this movie after church today, as part of an ongoing Sunday school discussion on “Asian Canadian Identity and Faith.” Flower Drum Song is a 1961 musical film adaptation of a novel by the same name, written by Chinese-American author C. Y. Lee, and produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein (of Sound of Music fame).
My mind was mildly blown by the fact that something like this existed back in the 60’s, even before most of the dialogue around the African-American civil rights movement began. From Wikipedia:
The film was unusual (for its time) in featuring nearly all Asian American cast members (one of the few speaking Caucasian parts being that of a mugger), including dancers, though two of the singing voices were not Asian ones. Starring in the movie were Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong, James Hong, Reiko Sato and the original Broadway cast members Jack Soo, Miyoshi Umeki, and Juanita Hall.
Some today might find the drummed up (hehe) stereotypes and exaggerated cultural cues to be offensive, or at least in bad taste. But I think that this was something truly remarkable for 1961, in that it:
Fifty-two years later, and we’re still dealing with some of the same issues. Namely, struggles with cultural identity, obligations to filial piety, narrow ideals of success, pressures created by the model minority myth, and fundamentally unbiblical elements of Asian culture. (Thank God that arranged marriage is no longer an issue :P.)
Anyways, I’m really enjoying the Sunday school series so far! It’s fascinating learning more about the history behind the Asian-American struggle, its implications on our Christian faith, and also the slight but significant developmental differences between Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians.
According to my friend and ex-AAIV staffer of five years in Calgary, Asian-Canadian Christians are years behind in regards to having this type of open dialogue. Few have ever even heard of the term “model minority”. I tend to take it for granted just how much I’ve been exposed to the topic of AA identity simply from being involved in AACM and IV throughout college. I’ve had access to resources like “Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents”, and dialogue-starters like the open letter penned by Asian-American Christian leaders (including many IV staffers) to the American evangelical church.
So for all this (and so much more), I am thankful for IV. Thankful for its role in shaping my identity as a California-born, Texas-raised, Canada-living, first generation Chinese-American. And above all else, a Christ follower.
Oh come colder weather
Oh come something better please
it’s been a month since I moved here. Some musings:
(Video clip is my favorite part of one of my all-time favorite movies.)
In exactly one month, I will be moving to Calgary, where I pretty much know no one, for my next six-month work rotation. And to be honest, I’m a bit terrified. The initial giddy restlessness has passed. The anxious hand-wringing and skeptical eyebrow-cocking has begun. The distressing sensation of floating threatens to call into question the legitimacy of all the relationships I’ve made here.
When I first arrived in Seattle, I told myself not to let the dread of being uprooted stop me from ever taking root. Perhaps I listened too intently to my own advice, because the roots run deep and the dread is real. Brothers. Sisters. Colleagues. Friends. The friendly cashier lady at Safeway. The Californian couple that owns the boba tea shop. The motherly Chinese-Vietnamese hairdresser who is also a great conversationalist. The archetypal, nuclear, American family, complete with golden retriever, that always happens to be at the park as I run/bike by in the evenings. The edgy-cute hipster barista at Espresso Vivace. So many real and prospering relationships, their advances halted, their futures relegated to the confines of Facebook walls and tiny chat windows. “Keeping in touch” offered as a pale and paltry substitute for “living life together.”
But that’s an awfully depressing outlook, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not a phenomenon that is unfamiliar to me or you or anyone else. It happens at all transitory periods of life: high school to college, college to career, and every other in-between. And in this Life revealed as a single interminable sequence of transitions, it seems we are in store for many more promises to “keep in touch” in the future.
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my working life. And, though a bit arbitrary, I think it’s worth reflecting upon. Some thoughts rolling around in my head recently:
So looking forward to the next six months, and the next year, and the next x amount of time… Yes, I am terrified. But I think that’s okay. Life was designed to terrify us, at least a little bit. There will be, at the same time, joy and sadness. But not too much sadness, because I am alive. Yes, alive.
The Great Gatsby
“I’m getting my PhD in Mechanical Engineering.”
“And what does a Mechanical Engineer do?”
“Well, when a company wants something new, we take some old things and squish them together. There’s a few more bits and bobs to it, but that’s the general gist.”
(San Francisco, CA)