Thursday, 20 January 2011

Exploring human, not seeking happy

A polite question was asked of Dig. Because he is polite, he asked me. 'Are you enjoying living in Hong Kong, Grit?'


He looked a little taken aback. Well, it's a truthful answer. Let's face it Dig, you didn't eye-spy me for my qualities of social diplomacy and tact.

Anyway, the answer's still no. Enjoying the Hong Kong living experience wasn't on the list.

Health? Yes. Having the family breadwinner live thousands of miles up in the sky on a plane between high-pressure situations is not a good idea. Unless the insurance is entering the millions. It isn't. Of course I had the idea that living a life without the constant threat of deep vein thrombosis would help. Well that was a crap idea. It didn't. We just changed one type of stress for another.

Education? That was on the list. It's still a reason to be here. It's a reason to be anywhere, actually. I cannot understand people who say, 'We took Tinkerbell round the world but decided to come back to Preston because she starts school next week and we don't want her to miss out'. Or people who say, 'Yes, we're going to research volcanoes in Peru. We asked permission of the headteacher and he said it would be alright if she took the spelling booklet with her'.

There is a more rounded real-world education to be had out here than sitting in a packed classroom worrying about the weekly spelling test. We accept it's just part of the deal that the lessons might not be revealed for another ten years or so. Who's to know? Tiger could yet explode out of St Martin's clutching sketch pads splitting from the innards with her inspired designs from Cantonese opera costume.

Education of any description is an act of faith. It requires vision, sacrifice, and knuckle biting. There's very little enjoyment to be had in that mixture, I find.

And experience? I'm sure it was there, on the list, when I sorted out my priorities and expectations about agreeing to come here. We all know the word experience is code for 'crap awful bit of life that you could put in the shredder'. So we'll 'put it all down to experience' and say that living in Hong Kong has had its moments of misery, challenge, anger, confusion, dismay, regret, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and loss. There was some fun on the way. I laughed.

Which sort of makes my point. I didn't put happy, enjoy, or amuse on the bloody list as any sort of priority. I came here because I thought it was the most pragmatic way to help stop a man dropping dead, to mash the kid brains, and to put myself in a different situation from which I could experiment. Expand the elastic bits of me that are ordinary human feelings. Find out which of them stretch, and which of them snap.