…be afraid only of standing still.
I have been working myself into nearly anxious fits the past few weeks because I have been afraid I am not doing enough; not going to enough places, or doing enough things or seeing everything I want to see, and having all the experiences that I want to have. I found this proverb while writing today and thought it would be fitting as a reminder that I should be very proud of myself for not standing still even though through my own eyes things may seem to be going slowly.
October has brought about an increased demand for my attention at work (that I tend to conveniently forget about when I am not there). Parents night is coming in two short weeks and everything has to be just perfect for the teaching demonstration. We will have a mock class with the parents in the classroom so they can see what their kids actually do in school all day. It is also a chance for the parents to get acquainted with the teachers, especially the foreign teachers, especially the new one; meaning me. Aside from parents night, the foreign teachers are responsible for planning and running the Halloween party and haunted house for the upcoming holiday. It doesn’t help that our lead teacher is British and never celebrated the tradition until coming here…
Since I have been so worried about utilizing my time for things I feel I need to experience, despite the impending typhoon I took this weekend to get some goals accomplished. Friday morning before work I planned on meeting a fellow ESL teacher at the Maoking Gondola for a short hike up the mountain and take the famous scenic gondola route down. Like all good plans, it didn’t quite work out perfectly. Fighting through morning MRT traffic in Taipei put us an hour behind schedule and we did not have time to do the hike, but we did take the gondola up and down the mountain. It was about a 30 minute ride each way (for $50NT) and has a beautiful view of the Wenhu area and Taipei itself. On the way down we got a “crystal cabin”, one with a see through plexi-glass bottom, so you can really take in the views, this provided entertainment for a fun selfy photo shoot. Saturday we planned on going to the National History Museum in Taipei, canceling our preliminary plans for the beach and trading in for a museum day. We ended up going to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial and staying longer than anticipated, so we missed the museum but got a good look at the memorial and the nearby 2-28 Peace Park. I never realized how little Eastern world history I knew before this weekend. Chiang Kai-Shek (A.K.A Jiang Jhongjeng) was a political leader in the mid 1900’s of the Chinese Nationalist Party. He once had a great amount of influence in the Chinese government until a rift occurred between the communist and nationalist parties. After suffering defeat by the communists in the Chinese civil war (after/during WWII) he fled to Taiwan where he ruled for around 30 years, still determined to take back the power he once held in the Chinese government from Taiwan. From my understanding he was never able to hold China in his power again as he once had and settled on ruling Taiwan. His government set up the basis for the democracy Taiwan has today. All this has been pieced together by the little amount of information I could find in English and what I have been told so forgive me if it isn’t 100% historically accurate.
Sunday we were duped by the typhoon into having another museum day. We went to the National Palace Museum. We only spent a few hours, but a week could easily be spent looking at all the different exhibits. The National Palace Museum is famous partially because of it’s history and partially because of the collections themselves. 600,000 artifacts were moved from mainland China to Taiwan in 1949 during the civil war for fear of destruction by either party. The museum officially opened in 1965 and today has over 690,000 pieces. It is known as a great spot for tourists interested in Chinese history and locals because it is impossible to see everything in one visit, and even if you think you have seen it all after a few more, they constantly change the exhibits because of the vast amount of objects that they have. They have watercolors from the 15th through 19th centuries, a room full of snuff boxes, well over 100, from when the European missionaries brought over the practice of snuff and it became popular around the 19th century. They could have dedicated an entire floor to the jade jewelry and bi-disks, they ranged from the 9th and 10th centuries to 2000 to 7000 or so B.C.E, some quartz was also featured along with the jade. I was proud of myself because jade is one of the few characters in Mandarin I actually recognize 玉, it was regarded so highly that the character meaning king, or emperor is nearly the same 王.
My favorite part of the museum was the bronze collection, dating back as far as 1600 BCE. The collection consisted mostly of food and wine vessels, and my of course daggers and battle axes. I was transfixed trying to fathom how much time has passed between the creation of most of those objects and now. I still cannot wrap my mind around how old they are. Try to imagine the life of a wine vessel from the hands of a Shang Dynastly ruler (around 1600 BC) to sitting in the National Palace Museum in 2013….
So though things seem as if they are going slowly, I know in my heart that anything is better than just standing still because even though Valar Morghulis, first all men must live.