“One may explain water, but the mouth will not become wet. One may expound fully on the nature of fire, but the mouth will not become hot. Without touching real water and real fire, one will not know these things.” — @Takuan Soho, The Unfettered Mind
tldr: travel, explore, run wild–whoever you are, do.
I’ve had a blast over the last few months. Departing from NY in Sept 2016, I headed for Colombia and finished off 2016 in Medellin. I spent the holidays at home and then started another adventure which took me through parts of America (Denver/Portland/Los Angeles) and now I’m in Asia for a bit. By now you know that Indian runs as deep as American does within me, but I’ve never explored East Asia.
I’m writing you from Taiwan. It’s a beautiful island with an utterly complex relationship with the Chinese and a lot to offer the world. Since I landed a split under 2 weeks ago I’ve met amazing people for engaging conversation and dialog. Some of my favorite conversation has been about the future of Taiwan.
Taiwan just elected their first Female President and are on their way to being the first Asian nation to legalize LGBT Marriage. With all the colonization that’s happened here, identity is complex for everyone. And that means they’re a bit more understanding. And a lot more relaxed. At dinner the other day some young (20s-30s) Taiwanese folks and I got into a discussion about economic development in Taiwan. It’s a market where labor costs more than non-industrialized countries, but pay isn’t nearly as high as industrialized countries. It’s also a place where people work an insane amount of hours. There are some ideas around how to make Taiwan a competitor in the global market–ideas like diversifying their manufacturing (would set them up with direct competition against German Small/Medium Size manufacturers). If you’re interested in the future of Taiwan or playing a role, my friend Jane is working on building community to attract & retain the best global talent here. Also, shoutout to the Global Shapers in town. They’re new to the scene, but damn are they poised to do something big. I’ve also been kicking it with a lot of the folks in Climate Activism. They’re suuuper cool–chemical engineers, physicists, food scientists. They’re all trying to make sure Taiwan grows green.
Food can do more for you than nourish your body–it has the power to inspire–to feed your mind. I took a trip to Jiufen with a new amigo I met at Meander Hostel. He’s an Edmontonian. I’ve got another friend from Edmonton (Nate!) and I love those guys. They’re a class unto themselves (also Nova Scotians are doope). My new buddy is a food scientists in Edmonton and wants to change the way food is used in Edmonton. One quick example is about Ramen–you can boil ramen in beef stock for hours on end and that’s how you get legit good Ramen. Or you can boil it in some hot water and throw some bones in there for a bit. Both get you Ramen and get people fed, but one is the best way of doing something. We had a really kickass conversation last night about how doing things the best way or continually better might inspire people to do things in their own lives better. For him, food takes center stage and Edmonton is where he can light that fire. American food chains are opening up there all the time and people in Edmonton, Canada love going to those chains. What if they had a better more unique option. Not building for the purpose of growth, but building Mom & Pop style where the kids are doing their homework out front and Mom/Dad are cooking in the kitchen. A really Eddie Huang story. Creating so that you can create/inspire/involve community. I’m with it. Can’t wait to go to Edmonton and see what he makes happen.
Yesterday I took a trip with two ladies to Yangmingshan National Park. One  from Holland and the other  from South Korea. They were incredible in their own ways. The Holland friend was finishing up her Masters in International Development and she concentrated in immigration. She’d never worked a “real” job a day in her life and was massively focused on career. The other had worked as a computer programmer, an event planner, and now a marketer running around South Korea for TomTom. I was amazed by the two stories, but the thing that was most visible was that my new Holland friend was stuck in her own way and afraid of what the world had in store for her. On the other hand, my friend from South Korea was open to what could be and dove into new experiences with wild pursuit.
I’ve spoken about this Uncertainty Paradox in the past. It made me wildly happy that my South Korean friend dives forward into life. I do hope that at some point my friend from Holland recognizes what she does have rather than what she lacks. Perhaps then she’ll be interested in action.
We can all do a bit more to get out of our own way. Whatever the future is, it is what we create. Brick by brick, our actions today will create the world we live in tomorrow. We have that power and have a decision to make with it. Inaction is a decision too. =)
Jiufen, Taiwan (This city inspired Spirited Away)