Root Rooting Rooted: on Taiwan

Who are you? Where do you come from? Tell me your story. What is your reality? What has nourished, challenged, and sculpted you, most magnificently, into your current reality... and then, when you look down beneath the Earth that you stand upon, what are your roots?

My roots reach deep below my feet, and then far across the Pacific Ocean, with grandparents that migrated from China to Taiwan, and parents that migrated from Taiwan to America. My roots have then carried me, migrating like my ancestors, around and through America for four years, twining and intertwining, and now above and beyond... back across the Ocean, back to my parents' roots, back to Taipei, Taiwan.

(What is this place you call home?)

I am now living in the same area that both my parents grew up in. Down the street, my mom's parents still live in the same house my mom grew up in. The house my dad grew up in is only a few blocks away. I am going to school up the road from my mom's college, learning Chinese, and tasting what it is like to be a student in Taiwan. I visit a beautiful park everyday; this is the where my parents first met. My personal creation myth begins, here. Once upon a time...

(What is your story?)

Every time I sit, poring over books and preparing for tests, in my grandma's store, she watches me, and whispers to my aunt, "She is just like her mother." My every action is watched, is a miracle. The beautiful chubby big-eyed baby has returned to her roots, to her parent's homeland, transformed into a woman. Some woman. We place my school ID next to my mom's old school ID, and see a startling similarity. I am the mirror of her youth. I look into the mysterious black-and-white yet not-so-black-and-white eyes of my mother from when she was even younger than my current age. Who ARE you?

My sprawling family tree smiles up at me from bags and boxes and albums of black-and-white memories. I never even imagined a tree like this. We are migratory. We are steadfast. We are survivors, adventurers, warriors, scholars, artists, healers, and royalty. We are our grandmothers' prayers, we are our grandfathers' dreaming, and we are all (somehow) completely connected by roots intertwined into the most beautiful knots.

(Who is your family? How are they manifested in your being?)

"You are so wise, grandma," I say over a dinner of warming winter soup, stir-fried cauliflowers, and the ever present bowl of rice. My grandma replies, "No, you are much smarter than I am!" She has never gone to school. It was taboo for women to get schooled, in her time. She taught herself how to read and write Chinese. She started this store we sit in now, and is the proud matriarch of a family of five children, who are all married now, each with two children. I say, "One plus one... makes twenty-two!" and "Grandma, you've lived so much longer than I have. You've seen so much. All my schooling is nothing compared to your life experience." We all have so many stories and experiences to share, from worlds apart... and yet not apart at all. Isn't it all just one world, really?

(I don’t know you, but somehow I do. And you, dear grandma, are a huge part of my Life... whether I know it or not. You created my mother, who created me. I am, thus, literally walking in your feet. Who ARE you?)

(I don't know you, but somehow I do. And YOU, dear reader, are somehow also nicely tied into my life, now even more so, from reading this... whether I know it or not. Tell me, tell we, who ARE you?)

Speak to me of family shock. A family tree that extends on forever, with fresh stories that never stop flowing, and realizations that never stop surprising. Oh, so that’s where that pattern came from! Oh, so that’s why Mom walks like this! Oh, so this is why I have an unexplainable penchant for this-or-that! Click, click, and click. All the puzzle pieces in my brain rearrange as my roots dig in deeper and I explore this land, and my family ancestry.

(What's calling to you these days? What stories do you connect with?)

I am now sitting in my room, preparing for bed. A lone bird's night song comes dimly drifting in through the window, grounding green tea scents tickle my nose, scrawling Chinese doodles tumble across my desk, my aunt’s warm wool coat scratches my neck, sweet black sesame paste dessert lingers lovingly on my tongue. I will fall asleep soon, and most likely dream of a forested desertscape with big mountains in the background, and a big ocean in the foreground, all my various-chapters-of-life friends from across my global roots sitting with me in a circle as we share food and stories over a large fire. Soon enough after sleeping and dreaming, I will most likely wake up. And it will be yet another new (perfect and beautiful) day, in a place that is somehow home and somehow not quite home, and new yet familiar, and warm yet cold, and so many sensations, colors, thoughts, and more all rolled into one big pulsating ball of once-in-a-lifetime experience... and I am grateful. Grateful to look into the mirror, and then all around me, and ask the same question again, and again, and again, the Seeker's mantra:

Who ARE you?

Who AM I?

January Taiwan photos




one day, we all die
but until then, we live
how shall i grow
how shall i compost


my spot . 我的地方

sometimes it's a sit spot
but only birds and bugs fly by here
and not many plants around
just the ones around my neck
and in my stomach

sometimes it's a move spot
where i watch Sun thru closed eyelids
doing sun salutations and deep breaths
hands open and pushing air around
until it doesn't feel like just air 

it's a spot
it's commonly termed the cks memorial
i refer to it as my temple, or spot, or just
that place i go to all the time

it's my spot

從圓山看台北 (taipei, from yuan mountain)


. 歡迎 . welcome .

When you enter the forest, remember to stop.

Feel the wind in your hair, smell the greenery, see the scenery, hear the birdsong, taste the magic of this world that you inhabit. Welcome to the forest. You have stepped into a wonderland of plants.

Taiwan has the most diverse fern population in the world. Feel the plants, how soft their leaves, how strong they are. They rise to greet you.

They echo our voices and breaths back to us. Rest your eyes on the green. Bend down, and look under the leaves.

Who lives here? How do I fit in?


sleepy sheep

body weak for almost a week
doctor lin says
spirit strong, but body weak
strong tea, hot bath,
and just more more sleep



TRUST. believe in Dreams. BELIEVE in Magic. expect the unexpected. it
will all work out. Life happens. so do Miracles.



it has been raining now for about a week straight
steady constant gentle grey sky doomy gloomy drip drip
but all the tree roots are singing, are singing
and all the spring fruits will be so sweet!


night tai chi

(from an email)

at first we stood there for maybe 20 minutes?
a guy talked to us from the radio about being aware of our body and etc etc
he used really big words and i understood maybe half of it
i got bored and listened to the people drumming down in the lower area
of the temple
and then my teacher, yen wei yang (yen means color! i'll refer to him
as mr rainbow) led us thru basic exerises
he talked big too!
this practice will really improve my chinese...
does tai chi have basis in verbal stuff?
sounds like it
huge language!
very beautiful but oh-so-confusing
we ended with 3 movement series all on the left side of the body
which i asked mr rainbow about after class
and he was really pleased that i noticed "i don't feel balanced" i said
"well, do the other side at home" he replied, "the movements are
supposed to use muscles on both sides, even when just on one side"
"but i forgot the poses already! and i feel unbalanced!"
"just let it go... don't zhi zuo/ hold on... go to sleep and we'll
practice again in the morning"
best parts of my days= food, rest, tai chi, new people, old family :)


cloudy day

it's a dark day today
clouds cover all the city
and sounds bounce back down
engulfing us in a cave of song and reverberations
beloved one
with your wings clipped and your rainbow hidden
how will you fly out of this fog?
(nay, my wings are not clipped; they are merely transforming
and i am growing
changing into the dark and changing into the cave itself
you see?
i am just growing)



i am starting my a-photo-a-day (apad) project again... just so you all know :)
(and from dec 2006, yes i am still doing the daily morning self-portrait project, project me)
i will not be posting apad daily (no time), but am photographing daily again
in an effort to (re)cultivate photog eyes
photog eyes: watching the beautiful minutia of daily non-humdrum magic: cultivating gratitude


七星山- 04

... and here's a slice of taipei from above
my nainai lives near that river in the photo's top third portion
my ah ma lives near those huge buildings in the lower third portion of photo (me too. school is there too)
Taipei county is like a bowl, ringed by green hills and mountains, and dipped down in the middle for the big City, her very self!

(thanks ming, for photo)

七星山- 03

(photog= ming... i take longer to upload my photos. :) thanks ming)

七星山- 02

(photog= Ming)

Jan 1 七星山 hike

climbing to the top of this mountain the first day of the New Year is said to bring good luck for the rest of the Year!
七星山 (aka. Chihsing Mountain, or Seven Star Mountain) is the tallest mountain in Taipei... and cold!
(thanks Ming for photo! and Toastmasters for the shared hike!)