Revisiting the photos from my three-month excursion to Asia has reminded me of how our beliefs, attitudes, worldviews, and (most importantly) our North American pessimism is nothing more than that: North American. Our mental architecture is- and I am in no way an expert in this manner- dictated by our Canadian environment, in which we have a tendency to both intentionally and unintentionally bombard ourselves with negative concepts, ideas, and attitudes towards everything. We believe in pessimism because we are taught to be cynical of everything. We can be unhealthily cynical, and, while visiting different places, the stories of those I got to know were devastating accounts of corrupt governments or neglected children who had to push their own way in the world; the people whose lives I was a part of for merely an hour were, to me, devastating. And yet, these people were happier than I am despite the struggles they have gone through that I could never imagine.
Take a second to remember how lucky we are, and talk to someone else. Learn their outlook, hear their story! It might change your lookout on how you feel about your own.
Paco and his art gallery, in Jiufen, Taiwan. Paco is an artist, originally a photographer, who decided late in life to move into painting. His wife passed away several years back, and none of his kids still live in Taiwan. He currently resides in the small mountain town of Jiufen. We stumbled upon his art gallery by accident, as there are no signs that directly point you to it; rather his gallery is simply an open door in a narrow alley, above which someone lives. The open door policy that they had in Jiufen was refreshing. We were told, even encouraged to simply walk into someone’s house if we wanted to see them. If they weren’t there, we left and came back later. The community and trust was stronger than anything I have ever seen here.