Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Silence makes you ponder
One thing I realized the other day (in the sauna actually) is how much time I actually spend thinking about things over here. Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, especially not after just having turned one year older (and for all of you who wonder, I just turned 27).
In China most days are sort of “go, go go!” and there’s very little time to actually think about what’s going on.
But over here there’s plenty of time.
Just take the bus ride in the morning. 20 minutes of complete silence. Then the 5 minutes walk to the office. Not a single honking car to disturb that vivid mind of mine.
Then, office. After polite greeting phrases (“good morning/ how are we today/ what did you bring for lunch/ did you get up to something special last night”) we all settle in front of our computers. For a good 2 hours my mind is focussed on work. Then I get bored with looking at the screen, which results in a wandering mind. Work, think, work, think. So silent. So easy to get carried with my thoughts.
Lunch hour comes as a wake-up-from-thinking-call. However, we only have 30 minutes so there’s not really time to escape to somewhere nice to eat. If it’s sunny we go to the park with out brought-from-home-lunch-boxes and enjoy the best, most social work moment of the day.
30 minutes later we are back in front of our computers. Typing endlessly. Mind wanders.
It’s actually not the dullness/repetitiveness of work that makes me ponder. Rather, I think it’s the silence combined with the quiet, and sophisticated environment I’m in. After work, I often walk to the city centre, however, my mind is still far away. Despite the fact that I just left the office and is now surrounded by life and people.
When I am walking somewhere in China I am constantly conscious of everything around me. I have no time thinking about how many babies I’d like to have or how to score my dream job, I am far too busy looking out for cars that might hit me, avoiding street hawkers, and not looking tall. When catching a bus I never sit down and let my mind wander, rather, I hold on tightly and hope that I won’t fall when the bus does one of those rather violent and speedy turns. In China it’s hard to find a silent place, and therefore (I guess) also hard to find that moment for yourself to think about things. I feel I’ve done enough thinking during the last week (my significant other went back to China some time ago so I am not “alone” in Finland) than I’ve done during the last year in China. It’s almost a bit scary. I guess it’s also a bit of a wake up call.
Everybody I’ve met this summer have been asking: “so, what’s your plan?/ when are you coming home?/ where will you settle down?/ What are you going to do with your Chinese?” and I’ve addressed their inquiries by nodding/shrugging my shoulders, smiling and saying “we’ll see!”
All this thinking-time I’ve experienced lately have made me realize though, that we won’t just “see.” Rather, I must know. Or, well, at least I must know so that I know what to answer next time someone ask. That’s how things are over here. You should know where your life is going. With all that time spent thinking, you definitely should have a mental plan in place.
People talk about different things here and there. I’ve noticed that I find people over here more self-centred than people in China. Not saying everybody are like that (noooooo, I hate to generalize, I am just saying that I’ve noticed that a lot of people talk about themselves a lot. Much more –and in another way- than my Chinese friends do) and now I actually understand why. With so much time to think about yourself, no wonder you get caught up in your own life.