Friday, August 7, 2009

28 Days and Counting...

Storms are vivid imagery for me. I assume this is the case for anyone that has experienced the raw, brute force of nature outside the Weather Channel.

Five years ago, nearly to the day, I sat inside my house in Florida huddled around the Weather Channel with the other 5 members of my family. In horror we listened as the newscaster announced that Hurricane Charley took a turn, and was headed straight for us.

"'ve got 5 minutes. Hunker Down.
Don't try to run."

When the storm's coming, there's not much else to do.

Storms bring out vivid emotions for me. Even today, five years later. When I hear winds howl, rattling the windows, my chest grows tight. The feeling of being trapped inside four walls that I frankly don't trust sets me on edge.

And so I'm on edge. It's the beginning of "Typhoon Season" today with the arrival of Typhoon Morakot, and I've been stuck in my house having to battle cabin fever as rain beats against my sliding glass doors. Once, in a gust, something fell on our roof while I was in the bathroom. I jumped.

We're nearing the 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the 4 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Ike. Do you remember Ike? It landed in Texas just 11 months ago, claiming 195 lives and estimated to be the third costliest Hurricane to make landfall in the US. Long since over, the news coverage has quit headlining the nightmare in Galveston, but I guarantee you, for the people in that area, it's still a daily reality.

Whether or not we've seen the travesty of weather, life promises to bring storms. It's part of what gives life its rhythm. Like breathing. In. Out.

I arrived in Taiwan at the tail end of Typhoon season '08. Winds, Rain and Restlessness are my earliest memories of this island. But, memories I haven't revisited in nearly a year.

Yet here I am again, brought back to where I began. Cycles.

Except, I'll be leaving soon. I won't experience the tail end of Typhoon Season. September 5th is one year, to the day, in Taiwan; and September 5th, I will be boarding a plane aimed for California.

My one year cycle in Taiwan is nearly over. It's strange for me, with the date approaching, to think that I won't experience another winter here, or Chinese New Year, or LUVStock, or any of the other highlights of this year.

Admittedly, there's mixed feelings. That kind of surprised me when I realized it. Don't get me wrong, I'm stoked to come home, and will most certainly be on that plane, but I'm starting to feel the weight of what I'm leaving.

And at the moment, I'm starting to realize the weight of the limited time I have. As I type this, I'm rounding past the 28 Days mark of my countdown.

It takes 28 Days to form a habit: which means the habits I form today, I'll take with me to America.

Last time I wrote on Habits, I said I was purposely switching my teeth-brushing hand. Well, ten months later, it stuck.

Also, I listed habits I was forming and ones I was seeking to form:

I say "Thank you" in Chinese with out thinking about it.
I say "Hello" in Chinese about 50% of the time.
I drink more tea than coffee
I don't drink soda
I enjoy walking (20 minutes) to the school
I'm starting to wake up earlier

There's also a few habits in the making:
I'm starting to go to bed earlier (it helps with the waking up part, I've found)
I remember to grab tissues to use in the public restroom before I get there
I'm figuring out a routine of when and where to take off my shoes in the house
I'm starting to not go back to sleep after I wake up early...

I still avoid soda and lean towards tea. I purposely walk places. And I even fight responding in Mandarin when I'm with my native-English-speaking friends.

We won't talk about my sleeping habits, but, those other "routines" have become second nature.

With one month left, I've began thinking about what kind of person I want to be when I'm back in the States. What sort of lifestyle I want to lead. I'm starting to focus on my eating habits and exercise routines, and hoping to cultivate something better than the daily fast-food and once-every-six-month gym trip life I left 11 months ago.

If I was to list one fear, it would be that I return home the same person to the same life I left. The very thought of it makes my chest grow tight. I get antsy; set on edge. My biggest fear is that this trip was just a year-long pause button, rather than the life-altering experience it feels like now.

To be honest, I know this is a rash fear. Nonetheless, it is a fear. One that will hopefully keep me conscious of the changes I'll need to make.

I know this trip has changed me, and I am excited to go home and find out how.

28 days and counting...


Manju said...

hiya!i'm a new follower! :)
this post is giving me such a stephen covey deja-vu.
we all want to be better people, don't we?good luck with the new habits!

Maggie said...

I remember when that hurricane hit, when you guys were in Florida. My family was praying for yours.

floreta said...

ni hao

and this is the reason i would not want to live in florida. i would freak out about the weather.

definitely not a pause button, chase!

i don't drink soda either and i need to work on my sleeping habits..

Chandy Andre said...

"I know this trip has changed me, and I am excited to go home and find out how." We are excited for you to come home and find out how too! Your experiences will stay with you forever and you will never be the same person because of them. Bring home some tea and teach us new recipes!! If you changed one habit, you've done good! We can't wait for Sept. 5th!

Chase said...

@Manju, thanks for the kind words, and the following! Don't be a stranger

@Maggie, thanks Maggie :) It meant a lot then, and it means a lot now. Those few hours really wrecked us. But it's made us (my family and I) all stronger, to know what we can get through.

@floreta, hah. know all about your sleeping habits. That's the fun of being on the otherside of the world. I know most of my friend's sleeping routine. ;P

@Mom. Thanks mom :) Got some tea in my bag. Want me to get the recipe for Stinky Tofu? ;)

virginia said...

oh, how i remember that day. three more followed charlie, but charlie was the most shocking. he crossed the state, and exited through my beach town.

somehow krispy kreme managed to stay open, so we had hot coffee the next morning, and an excuse to break fast with hot donuts.

i'm here, checking in to see how taiwan fared in this most recent storm.

chandy andre, your son has become a wonderful writer.

Don said...

"Feed your faith and starve your fears."

My guess... upon your return... you will be the same and different: the new and improved Chase. Most will like the new product. A few... well, perhaps they prefer stagnation.

Cycles... I've come to view them as ascending spirals, like a path drawn on a cone... As you look back on a year, you see the circular-ness, but now... you are a bit higher... a bit further on the journey... a bit close to the tip.

Enjoy the day(s)!


Sebastian said...

So nearly at an end!

I trust your blog will continue, so we all get to feast upon your reflection and new-found traits and habits? :)

Lynzi said...

God has things happen for a reason. Yes, I think our family is still very shaken up by the experience, but it's all apart of His plan.

I'm glad you were safe. Seeing that Typhoon hit while I was sitting in the airport in Uganda was not a good feeling.