Of cabbages and kings

by Jinryu

“The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’
From the Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Caroll




I think that the first time when I left home,

part of it was the catharsis of relationships. I think that everything about life is about relationships– be it to people, or the things you do, the places you know– and going somewhere new does that.  Life is as much about everything that’s not you as it is about you.

There’s this buildup as we work our way from knees to dress shoes in which you’re just constantly stacking upon yesterdays.  failures and you’re just stacking it all up, jenga style, trying to see how high you can go.  And then you just decide that you’re done– it’s time to start over and see how it will look different from this point on.


Quynh and Ly have finally moved out of the apartment with Terminator, so that means I’ve got the green light to move in.  This morning after I finished work, I went and picked up the keys and went in to have a looksie.  The place is full of dog hair, but, the empty bedroom speaks to me like a blank page.

There are a number of things I’ve become more aware of, or been reminded of, over the past few weeks as this event approached.  The first is that I think I have a better understanding of what ‘independance’ means.  I’m not talking about myself, actually, but of my family.  My sister will needs some help here and there, she’ll get it right once she’s got a job.  I’ve got the highest of hopes for her.  My parents, despite their eccentricities, will also do fine without me– there was a time when I worried that my moving out would really have a negative impact on the family, but looking at it now it’s the opposite– there’s a lot of stuff that we’ve worked out over the years, and among those things is that we know what buttons to push and which not to.  And my grandparents?  Well, they do need me to help out every now and then… but isn’t that to be expected? They’re over 80 years old.  For the most part though, they are independant.

What exactly is this independence?  Financial security?  Emotional stability?  And just having a certain amount of substance with which to not only survive, but to actually live?

It’s hard to put my finger on it but you just know when someone’s doing alright. I hear from some people that they’ve moved out sometimes for independence but in the end, I don’t think it’s something defined by a geographical separation from those who can help you– moreover, it’s defined by having your shit together, and the nature of the relationships with those that can help you and whom you can help.  There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and I think part of my great respect for the people I hold closest to me is because they have people who they can call on; because they know their own strengths and limits; and in turn because they know their friends and family intimately enough not only to know their strengths and weaknesses also, but to not feel ashamed to ask for help.  Essentially, judge them not by where they are or what they own, but strength of their links to their environment.


You could look at it like Marlow’s hierarchy of needs.  Independence is sorta high up on that list– it’s not something you can get, it’s more like an abstract state of being when all the needs underneath it need to be satisfied first.


I started ‘packing’ today and I’ve been reminded of when I lived in Asia and it was suddenly apparent how little I needed to actually live.  Picking out the things that I need to take with me, I’ve set aside the following:

  • a duffel bag full of summer clothes
  • a sack of rice
  • a rice cooker
  • my Xbox
  • my city bike
  • spare scrubs for work
  • my laptop

I didn’t have to worry about a blender, washing machine or an oven, because that’s already in the apartment. Can you imagine what my apartment is going to look like?


I think that I’ve reached a point in my life where all of my basics have been covered, and so now, it’s time to live that nonsensical aesthetic and explore.  Why?  Just because, now, I can.  I know I’ll survive.  Now I have to start focusing on living.

The first thing I’ll search for is a pig with wings!

Imagine: all the deliciousness of poultry and pork rolled into one….

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