I decided not to go eat Chinese food anymore except when I am going with some friends and they want to go to eat Chinese food. For myself, I am going to stay away from Chinese food. Initially I was frightened by this decision. So from now on I have to eat American food (or non-Chinese food) for a long time. What if I don’t like it? Well, I told myself, go find American/western food you like! Immediately it opens up a big space for me. I start paying attention to many things that I didn’t pay attention to in the past and start making sense of them. Things start to be connected.
When I first came to US, faced with this new space, I was so excited about exploring it. There are tons of questions that I want to find out. However, graduate engineering school can be very intensive, and thus I couldn’t allocate much time for me to explore the space. So I had to just get by. Gradually I got used to not being able to understand what people were saying and felt ok of it. I got used to not being able to communicating with people and felt ok of it, got used to not knowing what was going on around me… You know, I stopped asking those questions, and gradually forgot those questions. The space closed up. I got used to just getting by. I guess it is like the frog in the slow cooking pot of water, I am in the slow process of dying. Only occasionally, for example, when the school dining hall I used to work at caught fire, I didn’t know what to do, even though I had studied a lot of chemistry (but staying in US, I barely recognize any conversation related to chemistry. And just like math, chemistry don’t register with my daily attention since my top concern is to find time to learn more frequently used English words.) I was the only guy there, and they expected me to give them some answer. You know how bad to feel so helpless. Anyway, generally speaking, the space is closed up, although I never stopped fighting back. As time goes by, I get used to just getting by and forget the urgency of changing the situation.
So, you see, life is about continuous exploration of space. It is a very exciting thing and it is the energy that sustains us. Life is full of life that way. Look at many adults, why most of them have become so passive? Because they lost the continuous exploration of space! Look at the kids. They are always very excited, playing around. The world is brand new for them and there are so many things to explore. When did the change happen to them?
When kids become teenagers, mostly they have finished exploration of nature. For about 10 years, they have been awed by the wonder of nature, and to some degree, start getting used to it. Many kids, at this time, start to getting interested in adult’s world. When they are kids, they don’t like adults’ life, which is incomprehensible. So cartoon is much better for them. Cartoon is much simpler. 🙂 But during teenage time, they are about ready to take on human world. They start getting interested in knowing about how the human world works, what is like to be a musician, and so on. They also know intuitively (partially society also demand them) that they need to take on responsibility in this human world soon. So at this time, a lot of time is needed to do a lot of reading (history, society, literature, many many things will interest them), or try many things in society (selling stuff on the street and so on) to figure out how the world works.
But we know, this is the time kids go to middle schools and become occupied by school work and home work (and TV). It is very hard to find time to explore their own interests. They are told by the school teachers to learn various things which are supposed to the basic learning material no matter they are interested or not. What happen then? As time lapse, even faced with the new space opening up for them, they stopped asking questions anymore, satisfied of just getting by and being passive. So you see most students go through many years of schooling without all those important questions of life, society and their positions in this society ever asked.
Before they become adults and have to be financially responsible for themselves, that is the time they really have all the free time to freely explore all sorts of things. After they become adults, they don’t have that luxury of free time anymore. Worse, they already got used to being passive.
So life is about continuous exploration of space. That is playing. That is adventure. Life needs adventure.
So we see two stages that exploration of space are blocked.
One is in middle school and college. The result is people get dumbed down by schooling.
The other is coming to US (as an engineering graduate student). The result, as one of my friends said, is to create the high tech slaves for US economy. (BTW, I am not complaining. I made my decision and if I don’t like it, I can choose other options.)