Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The High Life

I am living in a messed-up cerebral continuum detached from the chronological linearity of the real world. Why else am I harking back half a year into the past to dig up some of these old photos of where my footprints had dented the ground?

Ok, let's work backwards from my bus trip, which was actually going down the mountain. My blog is rewinding those tapes... But I assure you, my brain is interleaved.

Right in the midst of the surrounding mountains stand this church called the Liu Village Baptist Church. It was one of the first major church building of cement and glass in that area (followed by a number of other such churches in the following many years) that marked (sort of) a turning point for the prevalent folk religions there. Animism was the dish of the day way before Christianity was brought there. As more locals turned towards Christianity and abandoned their deep-rooted superstitions of old, they began to experience changes in their lives, both on the inside and out, from which they have not turned back, even till this day. Drug and gambling problems became a thing of the past. In their place are many other simple joys that many of us have begun to take for granted (teach a local how to play a guitar and watch him/her glow). Music, fellowship, honest labor, FOOD, harmony, education... fresh fish (though you don't get to eat those very often), entire pigs (see parenthesis for fresh fish), fresh mountain air, cold bathing mountain water... many things that we do not know we are missing.
Don't get me wrong. I am not begrudging living in an uber-metropolitan city like Singapore (though a certain Taiwanese somebody called Singapore a third-world country in the guise of a developed nation). I mean, we have toilets with flushing systems and no holes-alignment problems... I guess I do advocate that we do not think that highly of ourselves than we ought to. Take pride in what we have achieved, yes. But there's a fine line where, when crossed, it becomes haughtiness. I mean, think about it. We spend our lives working hard to afford metal boxes with rubber tyres, erected caves, and we eat dead fishes, and we consider ourselves rich. In other places, half of that debt amount that we are chained to can buy one a plot of land enough to start a village, dig a pond big enough to supply fresh live fishes all year round (subject to the competency of the fish farmer, that is), and maybe even grow vegetables that can be pulled from the ground and cooked right away. Who's actually the richer one here, I ask...? Of course, the back-and-forth comparisons can be so numerous that it is very much a pointless exercise. Which leads us back to the basic question: what fundamentally brings us joy?

My thoughts drift back to the people I met when I was there in the mountains. The joy the people take in their simplicity couldn't be hidden, and they certainly weren't. Smiles that come from the bottom of the heart and smiles that come from the heart of the bottom: which would you wear on your face?


Someday I'll be Saturday night? How about now?

Children photo courtesy of my friend, CJ.


Post a Comment

<< Home