Before the Jump

by Jinryu

Going to Australia is a big thing for me. I’ve never lived away from my home city for three years before. The process of getting things ready before I go, I think, has been a lot like finding out that you’ve got something terminal– you have a certain amount of time to do everything that you need to do until it just happens, and when it does, you just hope that you leave behind more postive influences on your home.

I have a cousin, [Ls] who is going to be coming to Canada in a few months. She’s a couple of years older than me and is a veteran schoolteacher in Taiwan. She wants to come to Canada to shakes things up a bit– go on the first big adventure of her life. She’s scared though– it’s a huge step, after all. She’ll be leaving behind a good paying, secure and well-respected job, for what? Because she has this feeling that maybe there’s something she should understand about the world and about herself before she does that for another year. She’s quit her job on a feeling that it doesn’t matter what’s after the jump, or exactly the conditions before it– she just needs to make the jump. We come from a family though where you don’t jump whenever you want– in addition to that being dictated by the clan, you’re supposed to ask in which direction, and how high. In the last few weeks here in Montreal, trying to get her connected with Canada has taken up the majority of my unemployed online time, as we do our homework on how she’ll survive in Canada in terms of living arrangements, schooling, work and a social support network. In the end, she’s purchased her ticket to go to British Columbia because she doesn’t have any knowledge of french, and it’ll be a problem if she were to come to Quebec. It’s still a project in the works, but, I’m glad that she asked me for help on the whole idea because I’m glad that she’s doing this for herself.

I have another cousin, [Akatsuki] who lives in Montreal. A few years ago when he was around 20 years old, I gave him a long hard lecture about how he was growing out a few of his fingernails, which, over here, is one of the brands of Asian gangs. A month ago, he told me he was looking for part-time work because he was flunking too many courses at university. He’s on academic probation now and is limited to 2 courses per semester, and probably needs the money because his dad is unemployed and bad with money, and his mom slaves away as a seamstress. I spent a few hours (it doesn’t take much) to help him work on a CV and a cover letter, and last monday, I took his lazy ass out and marched him around downtown to force him to apply at any company I thought was interesting. He is lazy, and, as I told him: “The only reason I volunteered to do this is because I know you’re lazy, and believe me, it’s one thing to not like your teachers, it’s another thing to be a big spender, but it’s simply a problem to be lazy. I’m here to kick your ass.” It wasn’t easy, but I think he feels more confident after we ran through some mock interview questions and found ways to translate his lack of job experience into eagerness and willingess to work/learn.

Within the clan, there’s the normal amount of gossip. But I think that it all misses the point if we say simply that Akatsuki is a lazy kid and who’s family needs to manage their money better. People always talk about changing for the future, but I think that what’s most important is to change ourselves first. Sure: go in baby steps. And maybe this is concusianism speaking, but, perhaps where the change needs to start is in our own lives, and with our own family and friends, before we ride the high horses to fight the big wars?

The thing is, for all my life, I’ve never put in as much effort on the homefront campaigns until recently, which is the point of this post. There are so many things that I always knew I could do to help, to make things better, to effect positive, sustainable change in the way that my clan works.

But I never did much of it.

Not until the Australia project came up. [CM] asks me sometimes why I make such a big deal about it… the fact is, despite that I am going to Australia whole heartedly, leaving Montreal 2.0 is a lot like dying. By the time I next visit… will everyone and everything still be the same?

And if I am to be missed, if I am to miss this place, what part can I say I’ve had in the way things were before I left? How have things grown because of my influence?

WHen I was selling stuff in anticipation of the move, I asked my sister, [Muy], if she knew anyone who wanted the Warthog (my custom commuter road bike). To my surprise a few days later she asked to see if I could adjust the bike so that she could ride it. It’s now a few months later, together with me she’s learned to change flat tires, and other basic bike maintenance. She bikes in the heart of downtown Montreal in the car lanes just like I did, even though just a year ago she was complaining about how much she hated/feared and didn’t understand cycling. To me, she’ll always be a younger sister– but if you consider how much change we’ve had together in the past few months alone, it’s daunting to think of how much she’ll grow up over the next few years.

I guess, my point overal, is that I was always capable of becoming more involved in the lives of those around me. I was always capable of taking on more responsibilities, of helping people to be able to do things better– but it wasn’t until it hit me that, shit, I’m going to be leaving the country for a long time that I started really putting any of those ideas to action.

So what was my excuse? What is anybody’s excuse? Why are we content, until faced with a terminus, to be bystanders? It’s a lesson which I’ve only now just learned because never before in my life have I had so much skill, so much potential, and seen how much I can get done in a few months. I mean… to brag, quite frankly, both of my parents can now use the internet. A few months ago, they still insisted on fixing the VCRs. There are so many things I can do, and I know that now.

In about 6 hours, I’ll be at the Montreal airport, waiting to get on my plane to Vancouver. I’ll then transfer to a plane to Sydney. Thus, this entry marks the last of Montreal 2.0…

See you all in Sydney!