Three random thoughts from a Hong Kong millennial.
I get scared by what I think of as “The Blurry Days Syndrome.” It’s when sometimes, on Sundays, I think back on my week, and I remember almost nothing. I can recall some food, some random moments — like when I walked really quickly into the pantry to refill my bottle and nearly knocked out my boss — but that’s it. No traces left of what I learned and what I felt.
Something about feeling really busy and tired, and then only remembering crashing into my boss, just made me panic about my lifestyle.
And this is where journaling helped. I mean, on particularly eventful weeks, my days are still fuzzy. But I can go back to my journal (which I try to write every day on Evernote) and remember that last week, for example, I reconnected with a former colleague and two high school best friends, I received a lovely email from a friend in Brooklyn, and saw for the first time a hot water bottle as big as a baby. It was weird and it CRUSHED me when I used it for an upset stomach, but it kept warm until the next morning.
Halfway through my quiet walk back to the office along the West Kowloon harborfront, I always feel a pang of excitement. Because I know he’ll be there, standing outside the construction site.
I came across him about four months ago. He’s in his 50s, slightly wide in the middle, and tan from the outdoor work. I have never seen him without his yellow safety helmut and neon safety vest. I think he’s a supervisor on site, waiting for the workers to come in so he could check their attendance.
At first, I felt intimidated because I’m shy and I’ve met plenty of loud and intimidating construction workers. Do I nod? Do I lower my eyes and walk faster? Is that rude?
About a month ago — I don’t really know why — we smiled at each other. You know that feeling of excitement when you’ve just made a friend? That’s how I felt. We started greeting each other every day, and last week, we graduated to a warm, enthusiastic wave. During Chinese New Year, he wished me a good Year of the Monkey.
Haha, this is really a tiny, tiny thing, but it’s cool, isn’t it? To connect with a random stranger who makes the effort to wish me a good day every day. It just makes me feel all cozy inside.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout. Her latest book My Name Is Lucy Barton is incredible, and so I reread Olive Kitteridge, her best-known novel. And this quote, I think, explains why I’m so glad about my trivial morning greetings with a man whose name I don’t even know.
Olive’s private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as “big bursts” and “little bursts.” Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee’s, let’s say, or the waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.