Track 73 – Faith

My father, forever the optimist, has always been a firm believer in the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Having heard it enough times as a child, I began to understand the worth in these words. Now, as an adult, I do my best to live my life in much the same way. Things always seem to work out better when I face the world with a positive attitude.

Most of the time anyways.

I have to admit that I didn’t taste anything but the sour tang of disappointment when I woke up a couple of weeks ago to a downpour. Normally, I don’t mind a little precipitation in the morning. I actually find the pitter patter of raindrops to be quite relaxing. However, on that particular morning we were not at home. We were on the island of Koh Chang about to enjoy the first day of our vacation. Or so we had thought.

Upon hearing the rainfall, I rolled over to Rachel and let out a groan of displeasure. I then reached for my smart phone and began to check the long range weather forecast for that area of Thailand. As soon as I did, the foul tasting bitterness that had filled my mouth slipped heavily into my gut. Grey skies, mild rain, thundershowers and nothing but for the next ten days at least. My disappointment only grew as I checked a number of other weather websites. They were all the same. Not one would give me the forecast to which I had been looking forward for so long. It soon became apparent that any lemonade I would taste would have to be drunk from underneath an umbrella.

And so, I did what any fool in that situation would do. I put down my Samsung, stepped out onto our balcony and defiantly thrust my finger into the sky. I poked at the dark clouds looming overhead and willed the rain to stop. I would not allow the holiday that I had waited so long to enjoy to be washed away in a torrent of wind and rain. I would see the sun.

And I did.

By mid-afternoon that day, the rain had subsided and Siaya and I were swimming in the ocean. The next morning, we woke up to the beauty of a cloudless sky. That night, I went to sleep satisfied with a tender redness on my skin that came from a full day in the sun. And for the rest of our holiday, save the last day, we enjoyed the beauty of Thailand ‘sans’ precipitation. (During the times that we were out anyways.) It seemed as though my finger worked. I, at least, take it on faith that it did

I remember the first time that I got it into my head that I had the power to stop the rain. It was in Bali during the summer of 1999. My brother and I had bought our parents tickets to the island as an anniversary present and then met them there for a family vacation. As I was laying out by the pool on our last day, I noticed a cluster of menacing rain clouds rolling in. For some reason (I think I had seen my father do it before.), I pointed my finger at the clouds and wished them away. I don’t know if it was a freak of nature, a spirit in the sky or my will, but within ten minutes the clouds had all but disappeared. I was blessed with a couple extra hours of sunshine. That was all it took for me to believe in the power of my finger. That was enough to give me faith.

Now, every time there is a chance of bad weather ruining our plans for a party, outing or adventure, I jab my index finger into the sky and attempt to work my magic. If you ask me, I will tell you that it works eighty to ninety percent of the time. I will tell you with some conviction that I have the power to stop the rain. Or at least delay the onslaught of precipitation for a time. Am I crazy? Probably. Just a little. Peculiar at the very least. But I am ok with that. With the present state of the world around us, I believe that having faith in anything at all is a good thing. It’s needed.

Any time I turn on a newscast or read a news-report I am drowned with stories of political corruption, deception and self-serving ambition. It is difficult for me to have faith in our governments.

The same stations and reporters that provide me with those stories also try to convince me that it is important to be aware of how JAY Z now spells his name or that the Queen has just visited the baby prince. It is difficult for me to have faith in our media.

I read about teachers being mistreated, students being mislead, and an entire system being mislabeled. It is difficult for me to have faith in our so-called education.

Criminals are let go while victims are abused. Truth, justice equality have been replaced by dishonesty, power and greed. It is difficult for me to have faith in the law.

I read of, bees, bats and birds dying, polar ices melting and waters rising. It is difficult for me to have faith in our future.

The world, it seems to me, is full of lemons and not enough sugar. I need a little faith in something to sweeten my drink. And so, I cling to whatever beliefs I have no matter how far fetched they may seem. After all, if something as wildly unbelievable as the ability to stop the rain could be true then maybe (just maybe) everything else in which I have lost faith has the potential to get better.

Faith, by George Michael, brings me back to grade thirteen, a road trip to North Bay, and the woman who drove me there. Throughout our long friendship, we have shared in a number of rather unique experiences that I know will keep us bonded for life. I hate to be a broken record (Something else that was taught to me by my father!) but there is nothing more reassuring than the certainty of a true friend. It is a wonderful thing to know that someone will always have my back no matter what. I can only hope that my friend has the same amount of faith in me.

Faith is the belief in something without proof. Although it is often a step made blind, it provides us with the confidence and light to make the journey possible. As Rachel, Siaya and I get ready to welcome the newest member of our family, I force myself to keep my faith and belief that things will continue to work out for the best. However, if they don’t, the next time it I see the dark clouds rolling in, I will just lay off of my finger a little and allow the cool rain to water down the sour taste of lemons.

Faith youtube link

Track 72 – Angel of Mine

My love,

When I first met you…

…I was sitting on my motorcycle outside of Nepal. You came out of the bar a little left of sober and I wished you a happy birthday. Our introduction was brief and uneventful. I doubt whether you even remember it. Why would you. I was just another foreigner on the prowl. Just know that I remember you.

I remember looking at you more closely a couple of months later when a friend of mine commented on what a good looking ‘bird’ you were. He was right. You were pretty hot. Jet black hair gelled up the sky; deep brown eyes full of mischief and excitement; a smile that filled the room. Everything about you seemed to draw me in.

From that moment

I already knew,
There was something inside of you…

… and I spent the better part of a year trying my best to get you to notice the same thing in me. This didn’t come without a struggle. Nothing worthwhile ever does. But in the end you heard my words, trusted my intentions and felt my love. You gratefully accepted everything that I had to offer and in return blessed me with a look of depth and purity that spoke of forever. In the end, you said I do.

Although our wedding day seemed to pass by in a blur, I will always carry with me brief moments and mental pictures of the day when we two became one: the sharp echo of firecrackers that awakened the world to our becoming; tears of happiness that were shed outside your parents’ home; prayers that were chanted for a future full of health and happiness; and the love from our friends and family that welcomed our union. It was and will forever remain a day to be remembered.

My love,

If you were to ask me why I think our marriage is so strong, I wouldn’t have a clue what to tell you. If you were to ask me why I still look upon you with the same sense of passion that I did when we first started dating, I would shrug my shoulders and tell you ‘because’. If you were to ask me how I know I will love you forever, I would kiss you and just tell you I do.

But you won’t ask me.

Instead, you will carry on squeezing my hand as you did on the day we were married; you will never stop caressing me with the tenderness of a young newlywed; and you will forever continue whispering ‘I love you’ into my ear.

How do I know this?

As I said before, twelve years ago, ‘My love, I just do.’

Angel, by Eternal, was the first song we danced to as husband and wife. As the music started playing, my head began buzzing and my ears started ringing. For a moment the world was empty except you and I. Time, for that second, stood still.

I look(ed) at you, looking at me
I know why they said the best things are free,
Gonna love you ’til the end of time,
Angel of mine.

Happy anniversary, my love.

You are my eternal!

Angel of Mine youtube link

Track 71 – Faithfully

Despite the oppressive heat and thick sheet of humidity that has been pressing down on the island for the last month and a half, I have only recently begun to notice the arrival of summer. That is not to say that I am not completely aware of the drastic change in weather conditions. My entire body is cocooned within a greasy film of sticky sweat that even the coldest of showers can’t seem to penetrate. I have to change my shirt at least once a day to avoid sweat stains and the stench of B.O.. I char my ass cheeks every time I sit on my scooter. (They can reach upwards of fifty-seven degrees under the hot summer sun. Ouch!). Trust me. I am aware of the weather conditions.

Nevertheless, ever since I was a boy, summer has meant one thing and one thing only: vacation. And for me, this only began last Friday. Admittedly, I am still working a few hours a day; however, my schedule is far less rigid than it is during the school year. I now have time to relax between classes and am able to come home for dinner with the family. This alone is the vacation that I have been waiting for. And yet there’s more. We have planned day trips, camping getaways, and even a two week holiday in Thailand. Could things get better? Oh, yes. They could. For the days that we remain in Hsinchu, Siaya is enrolled in a couple of summer camps leaving Rachel and I with a few extra hours for unadulterated fun and frolic. Now THAT is the summer for which I have been waiting.

Almost.

Call me greedy, but even with all the fun we have planned, two things are left missing: 1) my friends and family from back home (I know that Chinese New Year was full of cuddles and conversation on Canadian soil. What can I say? I’m greedy. I want more. Besides that, we had neither the time nor the opportunity to visit with everyone we had hoped to see. I miss my peeps in the homeland.); and, 2) the cottage.

Oh, yes! The cottage. Oh, how I miss the long summer days at … (Let me say it again.)… the cottage! Beers on the deck; dips in the cool dark waters of the lake; tours along the coastline in and behind a boat; adventures in the waves and through the air on tubes, banana boats and knee boards; leaps from small cliffs and the arching end of a swinging rope; barbecues at sunset; small bonfires at night; cards before bed; coffee at dawn; and then, one more time with beers on the deck. It is, in a word, spectacular.

And yet as amazing as all of that sounds (and is), those four walls would just be another hut in the wilderness if not for the girl (now woman) who first brought me there. After all, the cottage about which I am referring isn’t even mine. It belongs to her family, an amazingly warm group of individuals with whom I have had the privilege to share a connection since my first year of university. Without them (and particularly her) the water would be less alluring, the boat rides less thrilling, and the sunsets less appealing. Without them there would be no cottage. Not for me anyway.

As I sit reminiscing about the days and nights I spent embraced within the calming exhilaration of my friend’s northern getaway, I can’t help but wonder how it came to be that I still have the opportunity to enjoy such hospitality. The history that my friend and I share, as colorful, fun and exciting as it is, has also been tarnished with hurt and heartbreak both caused by me. Most people would have chosen to walk away from my company; most people would have ended the relationship then and there. I am forever grateful that she was/is not ‘most people’.

She is a woman with the strength of a lion who chose to hold on when most would have let go. She is a woman with the compassion of a saint who gave comfort when most would have walked away. She is a woman with a heart of gold who opened the doors to her home when many would have locked them and turned out the lights. She is more than just a woman. She is family – faithful and true.

Faithfully, by Journey, is the tune that takes me back to my undergrad years and the time I shared with this friend. Our history and her strength have taught me about the importance of forgiveness, empathy and understanding. Because of her I now see that I have the choice to rise above the cruelty and hurt that surrounds me and use the goodness inside of me to help make things better. Through her and her actions I have learned what it means to be a friend. Faithfully.

Faithfully youtube link

Track 70 – We Found Love

“I love you, man!” might just be the four most overused words at a bar. (Next to “I’m f*****g wasted!” of course.) Friends, acquaintances and sometimes even strangers are often the recipient of these kind words for no other reason than the bartender hasn’t stopped pouring. Alcohol along with it’s many other ‘powers’ simply has the ability to make everyone and anyone your friend. (For a while at least.) During my barhopping days, I sealed more friendships through slurred words and drunken hugs than I can even remember. It is unfortunate that many of these bonds forged out of hops and wheat lasted only moments past my one shot too many; nevertheless, I have always been grateful for any and all barstool camaraderie. Any connection with another soul, no matter how foggy or fleeting it may be, is a gift to be cherished.

And I do.

Especially when that connection helps to deepen a friendship that is already there.

I didn’t say, “I love you, man!” to my friend that night in Macau, but I could have. Maybe I should have. But I didn’t. What I did do was weep like an idiot as we left the bar. One second I was fine, and the next a waterfall of salty tears was rolling down my cheeks. I know that the floodgates were opened by a conversation I had had with my brother earlier that night about Rachel’s miscarriage. It was the first time I had talked about our loss and apparently the words we shared let out emotions that had been packed a little too tightly in my chest. Of course it didn’t help that I was wasted at the time. But that is not at all the point.

The point is how my buddy ushered me out of the bar and kept me from becoming a spectacle. We were in Macau that night to celebrate our other buddy’s bachelor party. The mood was high and everyone was more than a little intoxicated. The last thing that was needed was the drama of an ’emotional’. (An emotional is what my friends and I used to call a drunken breakdown.) My buddy somehow managed to maintain the status quo while covertly helping me deal with my pain. He didn’t pry; he didn’t nudge; he just told me that it would be ok. Even in my alcohol induced stupor, I knew that he was right. I just couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. A part of me obviously needed to release the feelings of sadness that I had long been repressing. (“Release brings relief.”) My buddy gave me exactly what I needed – a silent connection.

Nothing was ever mentioned about that night until a year later. As my friend and I shared whisky and a moment in an isolated cove on Shiao Leo Chiou, an island off of the coast of Taiwan, I explained why I had broken down that night and thanked him for what he had done. Once again, I neglected to say, “I love you, man!” Maybe I should have. The sentiment was and most certainly is there. Nevertheless, the words didn’t seem right at the time. As the cool sea air blew on our faces and chilled our bones, all that was needed was the warmth of our whisky and that silent second of connection.

We Found Love, by Rihanna, was covered by an amazingly talented artist at one of the bars we hit that night in Macau. Her sweet sounds and the song’s driving beat lifted me from my seat and had me bouncing around the floor like a madman. For me, it was the song of the evening. Every time I hear it played, I am reminded of the highs and lows of a weekend worth remembering! Although I didn’t find love, I found depth in a friendship that I didn’t know was there.

We Found Love youtube link

Track 69 – Good Life

Dad,
I just wanted you to know
That I remember the first time I felt the warmth of your hand.
Your touch blanketed me with love and protection.
Your fingers promised to never to let go.
They would always be there to help me up should I ever fall down.

Dad,
I just wanted you to know
That I remember the first time you told me that you loved me.
Your words echoed strong and true of a life full of hope and happiness.
They carried with them a promise.
I was and would always be yours.

Dad,
I just wanted you to know
That I remember the first time I heard you laugh.
Yours was a sound so pure. So true.
It filled me with the truth of a life filled with joy.
Your laughter was a song that I wanted sung for the rest of my life.

Dad,
I just wanted you to know
That I remember the first time I heard you cry.
The first time you had thought you lost me.
You tried hard to conceal the pain.
But I felt it through every muffled sob you wept.

Dad,
I just wanted you to know,
That I have never left.
I felt your touch, heard your words and know your love.
There was never a ‘memory of’
Only the promise of what will be.

Dad,
I just wanted you to know,
It’s going to be a good life…

When Siaya was born eight years ago, I decided that I didn’t want another child. The world was too cruel and unsafe. I didn’t want to force another person into her cold hands. So, instead of giving my little sweet-pea a sibling, I promised to take on the role as father and friend. I would be my child’s playmate as she grew. This sounded good in theory; however, in reality, I fell a little short. As silly and immature as I was, I just wasn’t the playfellow that Siaya needed. I guess I couldn’t fully divorce myself from my role as her father. It became apparent to me that my daughter needed someone else.

Unfortunately, it took a few years for me to realize this. By that time, Rachel had decided it was too late to have a second child. Too many years had passed since having Siaya, and she didn’t want to go through the birthing process again. It seemed as though, despite Siaya’s many wishes, she was out of luck. It killed me to see our daughter so lonely; nevertheless I had made a choice a few years before and for better or worse we had to live with it.

Or so we thought.

About a year and a half ago as I got ready for bed, I was captured by a small piece of plastic that rested lightly on the base of my toothbrush. Two blue eyes stared back at me from the urine soaked test (I got a new toothbrush.) and I quite literally lost my breath. As I stumbled out into the living room, Rachel silently gazed into my eyes. I know now that she was looking for a sign of delight; she needed to know that this unexpected surprise wasn’t also unwanted. She needed to know that I was happy.

I, unfortunately, didn’t give her the reaction she was hoping for. Despite the butterflies that danced wildly in my belly, I tried hard to conceal my enthusiasm. I was afraid that this was something that Rachel didn’t want. I couldn’t get my hopes up. Not yet. So, for a brief moment, both of us sat in silence and waited for the other to start a much needed conversation.

Somehow we eventually migrated back into the bedroom. Whilst lying under our protective quilt we discovered through hugs, tears and a bit of laughter that our hearts, as usual, were in unison. Beneath our shock, apprehension and fear laid excitement, happiness, and hope. It took a little time for us to get the words out, but in the end we did. We were happy!
.
Or so we thought.

The news of Rachel’s miscarriage couldn’t have come at a worse time. Siaya and I were visiting her grandparents in Canada, while Rachel stayed in Taiwan to enjoy Chinese New Year with her sister. (She was and still is living in Austria). My heart cracked that night as she told me of our loss. I was alone, helpless and a world away from where I needed to be. I knew that my pain was only a shaving of the anguish that was eating away at my wife. All I could do was to pass words of comfort over the phone and do my best to convince her that things would be ok. Unable to deal with the pain, I tucked my feelings away and did my best to move on. This. Hurt.

Eventually, however, things got better. Our holiday ended, we returned home and Rachel and I did our best to soothe each other. We decided that the pregnancy was not a mistake and tried again. The doctors assured us that the miscarriage was something that just happens. We would have more luck the next time around.

They were wrong.

The second miscarriage was much worse than the first in every way. Our spirits were still broken and Rachel was not fully healed. This time, Siaya was also in the know and we had to deal not only with our own feelings of frustration and sadness but also with the confusion and heartbreak of a seven year old girl. This. Was. Hell. (See track 17 From Father to Son).

But it passed. The pain subsided and the scars started to fade. We took our time and months later, after countless conversations and debates we decided to have one last go at the prize. I am glad we did. We are three months into our third pregnancy and all is well. The doctor’s have said that this child promises to have a good life. Fingers crossed – s/he will.

Good Life, by One Repulic, brings me back to Canada. To the night Rachel passed on the news of our loss. Every time I hear the words, I am brought back to the pain I felt that night. Now, with the blessing of our loved ones, I hope that the chorus will begin to echo the memories of something much better.

…in hopes of what will be…

Good Life youtube link

Track 68 – Better Man

Although my brother and I first arrived in Taiwan on the eve of Dragon Boat Festival, neither of us paid the occasion any mind. I guess at the time it wasn’t a big deal for the foreign community in Hsinchu. At least it wasn’t for my boss and buddy who picked us up at the airport. They didn’t mention anything about the holiday on the drive back to our new home or as we drank beers at Nepal that night. The only thing that was mentioned was the fact that we should try to balance an egg on its end at noon the following day. Apparently any individual who is able to succeed in such a feat is promised a prosperous year filled with luck and good fortune. I unfortunately forgot to raise my egg the next day and have neglected to give it a go every year since. If only intention and retention meant the same thing I might be a very rich man today.

As Dragon Boat Festival approached the following year, I asked my students to explain the significance of the holiday. In fact, I must admit (with embarrassment) that I needed to have it explained to me once a year for the next few years. For some reason my Canadian brain just couldn’t hold on to these new Taiwanese traditions. (What was I saying about retention?) Nevertheless, slowly but surely I have learned that the holiday falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. I also know that the festival originated as a means to commemorate a famous martyr poet who committed suicide thousands of years ago in opposition of the ruling emperor. My students taught me that zongzi (rice dumplings) are eaten and dragon boat races are held to honor his death. It, along with Full Moon Festival and Chinese New Year, is one of the three most celebrated of all Taiwanese festivals.

Or so I was told. I’m not so sure that I believe the hype. Of the fifteen years that I have lived in Taiwan, I have only celebrated Dragon Boat festival four times. Sure I have eaten my mother-in-law’s rice dumplings every year for the past fourteen; however, peeling bamboo leaves away from these sticky delicacies doesn’t carry the same weight as a Passover feast of brisket, potato kugel and matzo ball soup or a Christmas banquet of turkey, potatoes and stuffing. I just can’t seem to get excited over rice and an egg yolk. But that’s just me.

I was, however, brewing with enthusiasm over the prospect of taking part in a dragon boat race. The first time I joined a team was in 1999 – my Nepal days. Looking back on the experience it might be fair to say that our team was a little ill-prepared for the competition. I most definitely was. The first time I had ever seen a dragon boat was on the morning of the race. I left Nepal at about 6:30 after a night of drinking and dancing and rode straight to the harbor to meet my teammates. By 7:30, the first signs of my impending hangover started scratching at my brain. When we finally entered the dragon at about 9:00 the drumbeats seemed to be coming from the inside of my skull rather than the front of the boat. Nevertheless our team won our first race and finished the day by taking home the gold. Our first race was also our last. There were only two teams in the competition. As I said, back then Dragon Boat Festival didn’t have the fanfare that it does today.

After celebrating such a hard fought victory, I took an eleven year hiatus from the sport and didn’t venture back into the belly of the beast until 2010 when a good friend of mine organized her own dragon boat team. By this time, Dragon Boat Festival had become a widely recognized competition attracting many more teams and spectators. It had become a true holiday in which I was ready to participate again.

This time, our team, The Talladega Dragons, had a little more training. We practiced our technique for about an hour on the Saturday before race day; however, our oars didn’t seem to match the rhythm of the drums and we only won a heat or two. The next year, the same woman enlisted a group of eager foreigners to have another reach for the flag. In 2011, The Bamboo Warriors, moved up in ranks and managed to place third.

This year, we were led by the captain of The Foreign Devils. This team seemed to train a bit harder and want the gold a bit more. Unfortunately, however, our dreams of standing highest on the podium were thwarted by our long time nemesis. After a rather controversial call and a number of hard fought races, they proudly took first and we were left standing tall with second.

I was not at all bothered by our defeat in the dragon boat lanes. As I said, our team rowed with the heart of champions. We were just outmatched this time out. What left me choking on a bitter taste of something more than the salty waters of NanLiao Harbor was the fact that the rules of the competition seemed to have been altered to suit the needs of the winning team. Whether or not this was the case, it led me into a couple of rather heated debates with a friend of mine on the opposing team. My argument was that his team shouldn’t have been in the finals at all because their flagman had fallen into the water during a preliminary race. His was that technicalities shouldn’t matter – the better team won. This was a point I just couldn’t concede.

Did the better team win? Is there really such a thing as a better team? I don’t know. And really, I shouldn’t care. My buddy’s team beat us three out of four races and deserved kudos for their accomplishment. I should have let it go at that. Further reflection has allowed me to realize that there is no better team. Only a better man. And the better man wouldn’t have taken part in this debate. I guess I lost again.

Better Man, by Pearl Jam, brings me back to my last years of university. Although the memories and people I have attached to this song have absolutely nothing to do with dragon boating, competition or even Taiwan, the chorus, ‘can’t find a better man’ kept pounding through my mind as I paddled my fingers along my keyboard and anyone who has ever been dragon boating knows that you need to follow the beat of the drums.

Better Man youtube link

Track 67 – Torn

I decided on my way to work a couple of weeks ago that my next track would be Torn, by Natalie Imbruglia. As the song began to play over the radio that day, my vision quite literally became clouded by a torrent of memories that seemed to dance with each note of its smooth melody. I was transported back to my early days in Taiwan when Hsinchu still carried the sweet tingle of a first kiss. The smells, sounds, tastes and experiences were bursting with the invigorating zest of something new and exciting. My senses were alive and fighting desperately to take in every nuance of my Asian surroundings. Even in the greasy film of overpopulation and pollution the days were bright and the air was fresh. It was an exhilarating time.

Unfortunately, as I sat down to embellish on the song and the recollections it evoked, I was suddenly at a loss for words. All of my stories began at a bar and somehow didn’t breathe of a tale worth telling. I felt that this song was worth so much more than an anecdote beginning with cheap shots of even cheaper tequila. The memories and feelings that were embedded in the words and rhythm could not be done justice with just another story that began at a bar.

And then there came a flicker of hope. Torn was one of the first songs I had ever played at a bar. (It was at The Bar to be precise.) I thought for a moment that I could somehow weave a tale around my humble beginnings as a ghetto maestro at some hole in the wall swill-shack in downtown Hsinchu. How clever it would have been to relate myself to DJ Jazzy Jeff and his early days at house parties in Philadelphia. The tale would have been cute, quaint and, quite honestly, full of shit.

I needed something more. Something real.

Not that my experiences as a DJ weren’t real. Quite the opposite in fact. Without a doubt, my pressing play at The Bar that night was the first wave in a tide of events that helped to shape my life. In a sense, Torn (or a song just like it) was my humble beginning – but it happened at a bar. And as I said, that is not the vantage point from which I wanted to present this track. There had to be more to it than me spinning discs and getting pissed at the pub.

As I was banging my fingers against the keys, I suddenly thought back to a rather amusing performance of Torn that I had seen on youtube a while back. David Armand had taken to the stage with Natalie Imbruglia and the two of them captured the audience as he mimed the lyrics which she crooned. As I watched the video again, I was struck with how this performance seemed to parallel Rachel’s and my relationship. Here was a man taking the literal interpretation of what his partner was saying and missing her deeper meaning. This is a problem with which Rachel and I have to deal almost every day.

For example: about a week ago when Rachel said to me, “Wow! That shirt is really red.” what I heard was, “The shirt that I am wearing is red.” This of course was a fact that I had already known as I was the one who picked it out and chose to wear it. However, after she commented on the depth of red for the third time I finally clued in to her actual meaning. “You don’t look good in that shirt. Change it before we go out.”

Or every time I ask Rachel what she wants to eat. Her usual response is, “I don’t care.” It used to be that I would take her words at face value and choose a restaurant. After numerous failed and frustrating attempts at deciding upon the ‘right’ place to eat, I realized that what she was really saying was, “Ask me again two times. If I continue to say that I don’t care then you choose; however, if I give you any number of suggestions, choose the first.” Ouch! This was too much for me. My feeble male brain was (and still is) not wired to decipher such expertly hidden code. It took time for me to learn.

Nevertheless, I did. And every day I continue to push myself to look beyond what Rachel is saying in order to better understand what she means. Likewise, Rachel tries hard to recognize how literal I can sometimes be and tries to speak more directly. We have adapted to each other’s needs. And that is where the second part of David’s and Natalie’s performance comes in.

After watching him butcher the meaning of her song with the literal translation of the lyrics, she finally recognizes the fun in what he is doing and mimes right along with him. She adapted and changed because it felt right. This is how I feel with Rachel. Our life together is a constant struggle of dealing not only with our X Y differences (which would be enough) but also with our East West differences. Although we seem to bang our heads against the wall regularly trying to understand each other’s point of view, we have somehow found our own sense of congruence. Neither one of us has changed from the people we were fifteen years ago when we met at Nepal, but rather we have adapted to become a pair. And this is what makes us strong.

I now realize that in looking for some deeper meaning to what this song means to me I have missed the point. Torn takes me back to my humble start in Taiwan. Back to my first kiss. Back to Nepal. Back to the beginning. The only thing that needs to be said is that Torn is a story that started at a bar.

Torn youtube link