At some point, we owe it to ourselves to shift gears and reanalyze our perspectives, maybe do something completely different, something that we are not sure we're even capable of.
This summer I spent 6 weeks in Taiwan to immerse myself in its culture and reconnect to what I call my native country. With my extremely limited Taiwanese, I live in Taipei, Chiayi (especially the Hsing Kang township), and 2 weeks in the mountains of Taidong with the aboriginal descendant Bunun people.
The odd thing about this trip is that I had no idea what I was going to find: I knew this journey was an important one to me, that it would give me something that I felt I needed but wasn't exactly sure what.
Looking back now, through the tougher parts to the more rewarding parts of the adventure, I feel as if I have taken a thousand mile trek through my own emotional landscape, taking the gifts of love and sincerity from the people of Taiwan and the Bunun people to unlock an intense self-exploration. I have made many new friends, countless people to whom I am too thankful for words. It is thankfulness, I believe, that is most special about Taiwan and the Bunun people - that you are always aware that you are in a community that is constantly sharing and giving.
My trip culminated in a concert in Hsing-Kang, Chiayi, where I performed with the award-winning Hsing Kang elementary orchestra and musician colleagues in a piano quartet, performed five original compositions written in the course of my time in Taiwan, and interactive improvisations with the audience. The theme of the concert was officially a cultural evocation of Taiwan through my own eyes.
But honestly, the real theme was gratitude - in Taiwan and for Taiwan.
*Below is a video clip of one of the compositions I performed in HsingKang:
And an improvisation: