Thursday, May 17, 2007

Connecting the Dots

- 2 Conversations -

*Conversation 1*- Sunday night @ a small Japanese izakaya joint that experienced a strange power shortage that night; lights flickering on and off while my friend SA panned out her reflections on work over the past 8 months.

"I just can't bring myself to care more. I mean ... We spent days trying to track down this one shirt that is missing somewhere down the production line ... At the end of the day - who cares? I don't, at least."

Guess nobody could've envisioned that the day when the application was sent out. Ralph Lauren, NYC, and then HK/Singapore. Why not?

"Still, I guess I'll give myself till the end of the year to really stick it out and see where it can take me. But really, sometimes I feel like if I could quit the next day and just stay in HK and open up a new chocolate joint or what not, I would be much happier."

Same here, girl. I still have doubts about my program, and can you believe that I'm 3rd year into the program? Almost seems too counter-intuitive to quit.

"I eat crap all day at work. They work you so hard and in such long hours that you don't feel like eating anymore even though the company pays for everything. They put you in the best hotel, fly you on business class, and there's business expense for the good sushi joints in town ... But these days, nothing tastes like anything to me."

Alright, I guess I do appreciate my small cup of Latte and blueberry tart at Darwin's at 3 pm in the afternoon, even though at 2 am I continue to work and many times including Sat/Sundays as well.

"The other day there were 14 of us in the room for a RSEA reunion. Guess what? Only 3 ppl really enjoy what they are doing; the rest of us all HATE our jobs. I mean, literally, we HATE our jobs."

So I guess the RSEA degree didn't help much ...

"Nope, not at all. It was just a way for people like us who don't really know what we want in life to delay the process of thinking about what we want by another 2 years. 2 years have passed and we still don't what we want."

Well, at times I still feel that way, girl. Is this what I wanted? What was I thinking in the first place?

"You know what the real problem is for our generation? It's not about the lack of choices or opportunities but the fact that there are too many of them. And we get spoiled."

Nodding, I took another bit of the daikon-shiso salad in front of me.

*Conversation 2*- Tuesday evening @ a local sports bar joint with friends of House Church 2 years ago; been over 6 months since some of us saw each other last, and very likely the very last time I saw a number of them for a while.

“Dude, your friends G and C in SH – they are INCREDIBLE!”

I know, pal. I know.

P – “I mean, they are such intelligent and sharp women … They work hard and play hard yo.”

I know. Who would guess that none of our lives beat the lives of a full-time missionary and a self-employed entrepreneur working on a yak-yarn social enterprise?

And I couldn’t help but wondering if I would ever get myself out of this program and get myself closer to where they are.

“Out there to save the world, man, that’s what they are doing there. Crazy people.”

I know, crazy people, for the better.

Time for me to move on as well, pal, in a few weeks. Yet, not sure if I’m out there to change or shape the world into a better place. At this rate, it seems like life carries no more priority than getting a pass mark on that exam which – as they say – tests you on anything and everything you ought to know about a) sinophone literature, b) overseas Chinese history from the 17th-century on, and c) Japanese colonial literature in the Chinese-speaking community within the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Anything and everything that one ought to know? What does it have to do with changing or shaping the world?

I’m not sure, pal. If I had the answer I guess I wouldn’t be writing this entry right now but would be more studious in preparing for my meeting with my professor at 4:30 pm tomorrow afternoon.

It’s all about connecting the dots and finding the ultimate meaning within the seemingly meaningless yah?

Someone gave me a great piece of advice – 2 weeks before the date of the general exams one should stop reading and simply sit down and start connecting the dots. It’s not about “what is the main gist of Skinner’s argument?” or “how would you compare Shi’s epic novel on HK with Huang’s narration of women?” It’s more close to “how you would add or amend Prof. Xia’s History of Chinese Literature?” or “what would be the 10 main titles on the syllabus of Japanese colonial literature in Manchuria if you are to teach this course next semester?”.

Professors can tell me the gist of the books or compare and contrast the two different works out there for me. But it’s up for me to connect the dots and create my own innovative blueprint of the field. Whoever finds the niche excels.

And my job – besides getting myself to pass the generals – is to sit down and think about all the dots at hand and the way to connect them all towards the end goal of changing and shaping the world into a better place, even by a tiny fraction of an inch.

Thanks for the reminders, pals.

梅ちゃん at 1:34:00 PM



at 5/23/07, 11:36 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

good luck for your general exam.Just concentrate for another few weks and you will be alright. A great summer is waiting for you and hopeto see you soon.



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