Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chinese Interiors

Last night I could not sleep early for the 2nd straight day. I spent the evening after dinner looking at videos in the Internet. I had wanted to start writing but I could not focus my attention. Instead I allowed myself to surf and look at trivial stuff. So I wasted again a few hours looking as silly videos to avoid the necessary hard work. I am reading a new book about writing called 'The Write Stuff' which addresses exactly this type of procrastination. Good timing to have this book now that I am starting to resume my writing. I guess it's also the added stress of work plus events at the office.

I am also listening to John Updike's audio book 'The Widows of Eastwick'. He is a very good writer although he lacks that special ingredient that would make him a great writer. What I can say is that he is an American writer in the themes, subject and plot of his many books. He basically writes about the American experience and, arguably, he is the best person to read if you would like to know about the American experience. In an article in the Economist about him, the critic noted that he is the only well known white, protestant American writer who is not a Jew. Unlike other well known writers like Norman Mailer and Philip Roth. So the critic seems to imply that Updike has a truly middle American perspective.

My transfer to the new office is being proposed to be on 1st April - Aprils Fools Day. The date as raised in an email sent last Friday which I only read 4 days later. The counter proposal was on 1st June so I think some negotiations will be underway to reach a common agreed date. I guess this is giving me some stress because I need to push forward and prepare for my move. Not only me but my family as well. So I cannot help but escape all these pressures due also to my projects that I tend to just surf the Internet to relax. I am often afraid to reply to mails because of a fear in making a mistake. So my mind again loops with images of a former colleague who is now has a successful career in the new office. Again I am trying to find that trait that has made him successful so I can copy his success.

I have this idea that reading Updike will help me prepare for the new office but I think this is not necessarily successful. I have not received the offer yet and I am anxious that I will not be able to afford my new life. I guess I have this fear of earning less money than my former colleague and living a little above the poverty line with my family. My plan is to write a book so it could supplement my salary. Such a grand plan which I should have focused on the moment I moved here 7 years ago. Instead I focused on golf, reading about architecture and interior design, history, literature, Toastmaster and blogging. I will know soon know if all these preparations will help me in my new life.

I know I will be successful because of my long experience in my field. I just need to re frame it properly to fit the new circumstances. My only fear is that I have corrupted myself beyond repair, although trying to break free with a foolish innocence. In Asia, I have prided myself in being more Western than Eastern but I will be more Eastern than Western in my new job. I see more the Chinese perspective after all my reading and travels that I have turned 'native'. But that really is the root of the confusion and identify crises because I am Asian after all. Perhaps the Asian identity needs the sort of self-discovery that Barack Obama has undertaken in his book 'Memories of my Father'.

For the Philippine experience, I guess the voyage of identity began with Jose Rizal and his books. Often he is compared with Sun Yat Sen as the first Asians who have provided an articulate voice to the Asian struggle. The communist followed thru in China but somehow the road was lost in the Philippines. As for myself, the transfer to my new job has taken a life on it's own. It's like an inevitable fate moving forward with my conscious control. Like my wrist operation that proceeded despite my minds frequent mental loops, thinking it will never push through. I guess to key to success is to be yourself - down to earth and enjoy life.

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