Monday, September 28, 2009

Back in the States

Written Friday, September 18th...

Well, I’ve been back in the United States for about five days and it’s been interesting to say the least. One of the primary things on my to-do list during my visit was to settle the rental of my house in Colorado. The person renting it was unsure whether or not she’d stay on, and it seems as though she’s not. Actually, since she hadn’t paid rent properly this month, I actually told her she needed to leave. So I’ve had to deal with that, along with some car maintenance, household chores for my mother, and the blizzard of untended business and financial messes that have piled up in my absence. It’s definitely not been fun, but there have been some good times outside of the more business-oriented aspect of my visit. I’ve gotten to see good friends, eat some wonderful foods I hadn’t had in a long while (and drink some fantastic margaritas). Yesterday, my mom and I took a drive into the mountains just west of town. September is my favorite month in Colorado… daytime temperatures are usually around 75°F (24°C) with cool, crisp evening temperatures around 45-50°F (7-10°C). Perfect weather, and the leaves on all the aspen trees in the mountains are beginning to change to a brilliant yellow. So we headed into the high country to see the autumn colors. The weather was terrific, and though the leaves weren’t at their peak color, they were well underway, and the scenery was beautiful.

Another thing I’ve been doing is shopping for things to take back to Malaysia with me, typically things that are either very difficult to find there or notoriously expensive. I even had to go to a thrift store to buy a second suitcase to fill. Fortunately, it was laughably cheap (about US$4), so it’s veritably disposable at that price. It’s completely filled, mostly with food or food-related things. I also bought a new little Garmin GPS for one of my friends in KL since they’re about three times more expensive there. Also, for those who have read since the beginning, you may remember that one of my suitcases was destroyed on my initial flight to KL (between Denver and Los Angeles). A notable casualty of that suitcase shredding was one of the speakers for my bookshelf stereo system, so I’ve been making do with only a single speaker ever since. I brought back the lone speaker and bought two new ones (different style) to replace it. Martini glasses, bacon bits, soft corn tortillas, and all kinds of other assorted things will make opening those suitcases back in KL a total joy for me.

One thing I’ve been made very aware of in my short time back in America is how comparatively uncomplicated my life in KL is. In his seminal work, Walden, Thoreau urged the reader to live a simpler life, and there’s definitely a great deal of merit in that philosophy. I think for a lot of Americans (and indeed people in plenty of other countries), we replace serenity and contentment with just a lot of frenetic activity. For many people, if they were asked to stop, reflect, and really ponder how content and satisfied they were with their lives, their initial thought would be, “I’m too busy to really think about that.” As Shakespeare wrote, “ a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Potentially depressing, but also illuminating and all too often true… but changeable.

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