Skip navigation

What is becoming is honest, and whatever is honest must always be becoming.

Cicero

A Blooming FlowerWhen people first met me I tend to be an unknown commodity. Very quiet and restrained. I didn’t take an active role in conversations and I certainly won’t be sharing much information about myself. You are a stranger, and in my framework, my personal blinkers, strangers were people to be cautious around.

What you certainly couldn’t do was to trust them; they would burn you further down the line. More importantly they didn’t need to know, and all information about me was on a strictly need to know basis. Perhaps over time when we built up a rapport, you might be initiated into the mysteries of Mohammed, but absolutely not without this essential precondition.

This was my mindset for much of high school. Craig and Mubaraka could testify how difficult it was to get any information from me on personal matters. And they were my friends!! I would consistently albeit unconsciously downplay my life. If asked, I was doing nothing, going to chill, relax, not doing anything this weekend, not planning on anything for the holidays and so on. For all intents and purposes I was doing nothing all the time, no matter how much was actually going on.

Like so much else, this was something that was purged from me in the Great University Experience. For the first time in my life I was cut off from the safety net of old friends and old habits. The environment was alien; I knew so few people and there were so many new people about that I had no choice but to learn how to make new friends.

Being the stubborn, ignorant, prideful person that I am, I paid no heed to these demands. I always have a choice. I was not going to remake myself to accommodate a foreign world, they would do business on my terms or not at all. And in the end, I didn’t need to. I found the few people that I liked who did business on my terms and built myself a comfortable life. The truest of pyrrhic victories.

At the same time, I discovered a deep seated admiration for people such as James and Gareth, people who for all my inherent reserve had befriended me. I have no delusions that our friendship was in anyway a bilateral process. They befriended me. And I understand how they did it. They were honest, frank, caring and they invited me into their lives, they showed their human side and their ups and downs in a way that I don’t think I’d experienced before.

It really is the most fundamental of human reactions that when others open up to you, you reciprocate that trust. You open up to them. We understand what a gift it is when someone shares their life with you. Maybe because we know how hard it is to do, we understand how precious it truly is. And most people take that responsibility seriously.

Here, back in Hong Kong, in very much the same situation, I’ve tried and put that mantra into action. I’ve opened up to the new people that I’m meeting. I’m being frank, and sharing my daily life, my moments and my ups and downs with them. For me. Because I want to. Because I know it works. And I’ll be damned if I’ll turn away from what works because it scares me.

And I hope that if I keep doing it, someday it will become natural. That I don’t have to live with this insular over protective isolationism that is my natural mode. Crazy thoughts, I know. But that’s what hope is.

Advertisements