My month started off on a beach in Thailand. After ten days of not eating anything, trying to rid my body of all the things that the previous year had put into it, I was nibbling on some watermelon coming out of the fast the right way. It was hot and the sun shone down on my sandaled feet. I was tan, slim, and looking about as good as I can, which isn’t that good, but the sight of myself in the mirror didn’t unsettle me at the time. Most importantly, I was a clean, alcohol free, cigarette-less dude. This was a good thing considering my penchant for inhaling the beers and throwing back the cigarettes. Then a couple of days later, I was on a plane flight back to the homeland thinking about how I could keep some of the healthy lifestyle with me. Then a couple of more days later, I was in my usual seat at the bar waiting for an old friend to come. He came and after what seemed like a million, “come on have ones,” I was sitting there with a Zhonghwa hanging out of my mouth. Fifteen minutes and three cigarettes later I was back to my old self with a fresh pint of the yellow in my hand and a newly opened pack of fags in my pocket. Here you thought this was going to be an inspirational piece, but hey, I say better to have cleaned and get dirty again then to have never cleaned at all. Just because you’ll shit tomorrow doesn’t mean that you won’t wipe today. Right?
Then a couple of days later, it was my thirty-fifth birthday, and it hit me that I’ve been here for my fifteenth year now. Not that I care to admit it to many people. I usually just say that I’ve been here for sometime, and when pressed I’ll give up the fact that I’ve been here for over ten years, but it’s been fifteen now. It caused me to think about what I was like before coming here. I had a lot of hair, five kilos less weight on the gut, a lot fewer wrinkles, and an inability to use the Internet. What did I do when I wasn’t on the Internet? I’d like to think I spent more time reading books, getting out, meeting real people, and exercising. Could I blame all of my bad habits on the Internet rather than blame them on being around Zhonghwa pushing smoke-aholics? Does being able to Google everything make me lazy? Does it spoil me, or any of us, that we’re able to retrieve so much information through so little work? Would Einstein have made so many contributions to the field of physics if he had to get on Facebook everyday? It can’t be that China has changed me. It must be the Internet. I got into both of them at nearly the same time, so there’s a good chance that the changes that I’ve gone through are because of the net. Now it’s time to email this off and have a cigarette.
By Tim Hoerle