What are the 2 questions everyone asks themselves in life?
"Lai, zuo xia lai," he said to me, the cigarette he was about to smoke held lightly between his fingers.
'Come. Sit.' He gestured toward the beach umbrella covering a small wooden picnic table.
I was steps away from the black sand surf on the horizon of Taiwan's Waiao Beach. The sun beat down upon my skin so intensely, I felt I was being singed under the weight of the hot morning rays.
"Bu yao, xie xie," I told him. 'No, thanks,' I responded.
I didn't want to pay for the umbrella or picnic table, since I wasn't yet convinced that I'd be staying, the waves head high and the crowds more than I was comfortable paddling out to.
I breathed in the saltwater air.
Dropped into presence.
A few minutes later, he came up to me again. "Mei guan xi," he reassured me. "Ni de dong xi fan zai na li huei shi. Jiu zuo xiao lai."
'Don't worry about it. If you leave your things on the sand right there, they'll get wet. Just sit. It's fine.'
I looked at him.
"Hao de," I agreed. "Xie xie."
I slathered more sunblock on myself, and felt sweat dripping down the backs of my knees. I closed my eyes. Took a few moments to find myself and connect with my Divine Guidance Team. Suddenly, the surf shop purveyor sat across from me at the picnic table. He asked who I was, where I was from, what I was doing here.
I started to talk about my little family moving over to Taiwan from Texas, by way of camper van adventure, which all started as an idea on Kauai in Hawaii.
I talked about how we picked up and moved, lived all over the U.S. without a plan for nine months, and ended up wherever we felt called.
I talked about how I could work from anywhere given what I do.
By the end of my dialogue, he looked at me in awe and wonder, then at the ocean before us.
'Taiwanese people don't do that,' he told me in Mandarin. 'Even if we hate our jobs, even if we want to leave, we still stay, because what we know is better than what we don't.'
We continued our conversation for another ten minutes until he got a phone call on his cell and got up to take it. A short while later, I did the same, thanking him for allowing me to find reprieve under his beach umbrella, as I had decided not to surf after all.
"Deng yi xia!" he yelled after me, as I made my way towards the boardwalk.
'Can I take a picture with you? I've never met anyone from Hawaii and now I can say I have a friend from there.'
I smiled, posed for the photo (complete with my Kauai Juice Company trucker cap) and then walked away, his business card in hand.
He's the second stranger who's asked me to take a photo with them since I arrived on Taiwan a month ago.
There are 24 million people on Taiwan.
Being here has allowed me to understand a lot of the stories I've told myself throughout my life — where they've come from, why they exist.
I now understand that part of my fear of making mistakes comes from generations of people borne before me who have that very same feeling and because of that, decide not to take action.
I better understand why rules feel safe. They're what keep this mass of people orderly and organized on a tiny island that's 19 times smaller than Texas, yet hosts only 2 million less people.
I see the kindness that emanates from everyone around me, a feeling of community I couldn't quite create in certain parts of the States, and given the story that my husband and I believe about our daughter being another recreation of my grandmother's spirit, in a way, we like to believe that it's her magic that brought us here.
My husband says that Taiwan has challenged him far beyond his comfort zones with his inability to pick up Mandarin and the fact that he feels confined at times, also unable to feed himself the kinds of foods his body needs.
Yet, I know that there's a reason we are here, a propulsion forward in our personal paths, that the Universe is gracing us with an opportunity we could not have found elsewhere, and continues to reveal to us bit-by-bit.
You may not know why you're where you are.
And that feeling of not knowing the answers to these two key questions can truly drive you almost insane:
1) WHO AM I?
2) WHAT IS MY PURPOSE?
Sometimes, it isn't until you meet someone else who broadens your perspective of what's possible, the way that the conversation unfolded between the surf guide and myself, that a seed gets planted of what's possible in a newer reality.
As a typhoon prepares to hit our island, I recall how because of the impending storm, the horizon was clearer than I have ever seen it from our high rise building.
I discovered neighborhoods I didn't even know existed, because the wind had blown all the cloud cover away.
Today, everything is shrouded in such a heavy swatch of rainy grey that I can't see beyond our balcony.
Sometimes, everything will make sense.
And sometimes, everything will seem like you don't know which way is home.
Keep on going.
You're still writing your story.
You will always be the heroine of your journey.
Even when True North seems like you're trying to find direction on a shattered compass.
You'll find your way again.
Just like I am.
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