The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Grayson Buchanan.
Well, I’m on an airplane again, which is apparently the necessary conditions for blog writing, so here we are. If this blog is a little ‘iffy’, it’s because I’m a little tired from waking up at 4 am and trying to find my right shoe somewhere in this airport for the last half hour, which I did so we’re good. And as per tradition, while attempting to sleep in the airport I managed to find like a half-couch (with the half coming out of the side you sit on) which was substantially nicer than the floors in JFK and other airports, so I’m happy about that and having found my right shoe.
Anyway, I feel like the major theme of my time in Taiwan has been impermanence. From the lessons learned from the Buddhists in the monastery I did IT work at, to the lessons learned from experience, most everything related back to that one topic. I feel like it’s a bit of a lesson that everyone has to learn eventually, but one that’s sort of been thrust upon a few of us whether we’re ready or not. It’s just a weird situation when you meet so many interesting people you could completely know for years and be friends with, and know that after a month or so you will probably never see them again. Everyone I’ve talked to around here has said that it does get easier, but that there is never a way to move past it. I think it’s sort of sunk in more now in Taiwan than when I was leaving Vietnam because it had not fully been realized yet.
Taiwan for me has put so many things into perspective. Things like how to function alone, how to function without a real home or without the knowledge of where you’re going to sleep tonight. It’s good to know that in the face of all that I can function, but it is still sort of something that I’ve adapted to as opposed to understood.
All of that self-reflection being what it is, let’s move on to the fun parts. I had an amazing time in Taiwan. I learned a lot about myself, others, and the world as a whole. I helped a monk program databases, got lost in a bamboo forest with a 3 footed dog, managed to get lost in two different cities an hour from where I was staying two different times both after or around 2 am, got a sunburn on Christmas from going to the beach, was an offering bearer during the Buddhist Dharma services, saw the Tainan fireworks to start off 2020, was a kale farmer for a little bit, was forced to get a new phone, involuntary became vegan for a month, and got substantially thinner from the two times I got food poisoning (an estimated 69 vomits (I did the math), 54 of which happened in the monastery, the other 15 from New Year’s (not my fault, food poisoning I swear)). There have been lots of ups and downs, lots of people I’ll miss and not see again, and maybe a few that I will, lots of memories made and realizations had.
But yeah, I’m going to Tokyo now with another fellow, so we’ll meet up there and spend two weeks traveling in Japan, after which I am most likely going to Thailand where I’ll teach again. I got my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification in the monastery, so I am, for all intents and purposes bonafide (to teach English that is). It’s been nice here, and I’d love to come back, but I’ve said that about a lot of places, and I don’t know if there will be a chance like this again. Once again, the main theme has been impermanence – you might not know when the last time you see a person or a place will be, could be now could be later, so the only thing you can do is to make the most of each place and to appreciate each person while you can. The flight is about to take off (like 45 minutes late but y’know), so I’ll say goodbye to impermanent Taiwan, with its impermanent people, hopefully not for the last time.