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Paradigm shift

  • 17th Jan, 2005 at 9:06 PM

My trip to Hong Kong has really changed how I perceive the world. It's difficult to explain, as I've tried to do to the people at work, but maybe I can do better here.

Going to Hong Kong was like getting in a spaceship and blasting off to another world. Although Hong Kong is a first-world city, it's mind-blowingly different. Sure they have electricity and running water. They have cars and office buildings and fast food restaurants that lead to child obesity. It's just that for all the big things that are the same, there are so many details that are different.

What struck me when I arrived was how everyone looked the same. Black hair, black eyes, yellow skin. In all the advertisments, there were no token minorities. In Canada, we're used to seeing different people all over the place so I was shocked by the uniformity.

What else was there? How small and cramped everything was. People upon people, crowds upon crowds. If I were agoraphobic or even claustrophobic, I wouldn't be able to deal with Hong Kong.

And people are so conformist. Living in a place where Confucian thought meets Western business is such a weird and strange combination.

I see that a world can exist with completely foreign axioms. It's as if I met an alien with only two fingers. And it had built up an entire system of mathematics based on this, completely foreign to the one I use. It could, of course, calculate the course of planets, or the speed of light, or any of the things I could do—only it would do them in a completely foreign way. And it would work.

So I wonder how many things I take for granted are actually just arbitrary axioms. Little principles that I observed when I was young, and unquestionably adopted into my perception. Like the blind spot on my retina, I don't see them unless I look for them. Now I do.

This whole experience has changed how I look at the world. It's changed how I'm going to live my life. I want to examine all these things I've believed since childhood and question them, manipulate them, take them apart and absorb them whole. I'm going to take what's good and true, and leave the bad behind.

My trip has been a rite of passage: pain and glory. I've grown up once more.


18th Jan, 2005 00:21 (UTC)
Re: It's funny...
It was a bittersweet trip, but I'm glad that I went. It's good to be back.