The fact that you, are you, is undeniably certain. But the chance that you, are you, seems so amazing that it is both unfathomable and unquestioned. Growing up in different regions of North America with only my parents and then my brother as a constant presence of family, I saw the concept of family as a small isolated bubble that I was undoubtedly apart of. I thought of my parents’ union as simply an existence, and never as partially a product of coincidence. Therefore, the rarity of me, being me, was not a notion that my mind disposed the tools to even conceive.
Naturally, as we mature, our sense of identity fleshes out. We realize how we are similar and different in character to other people, and these comparisons help us understand our personality. We evaluate our own behaviour and actions, and this also helps us understand our personality. In that way, my sense of identity developed, but mostly with a forward perception of time. I still didn’t conceive my sense of identity by its past, its source of origin.
This all changed during a three-week trip to China. I’d been to China twice, when I was a baby and when I was eight; both times I stayed with my maternal grandparents in the city of Changchun, in North-East China. This trip was different. In three weeks, my parents, brother, and I explored five different cities: Shanghai, Huai’an (my dad’s hometown), Nanjing, Beijing and Changchun. Within these five cities and during our travels in-between, I had the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, food, places of the various faces of China. But what was ultimately most memorable to me, were meeting the deep pool of family members and friends my parents were connected to. Continue reading “In China, With History”