Orientalists All Three

Back from a workout.  Slower today.  As I went out on the lanai before I headed for my aerobics, I noticed a disturbance in the calm.  A rustle of waves preceded a fluke, it fanned in the air glistening with water, then followed the great body down.  A birthday wish from an ocean mammal to a land mammal.  Mahalo.

As I walked along the ocean, I reflected a bit on the peculiar fate of my nuclear family.  Mom died early.  Dad lived several unhappy years in a marriage ill-fitted to both him and Rosemary.  Mary ended up first in Malyasia, then in Singapore, following her interest in linguistics.  Mark traveled the world from Vladivostok to Moscow, Moscow to Turkey, Turkey to Israel, then, by some route to Bangkok which he found just right.  They’ve both in Asia almost longer than I lived in Alexandria.  Though I’ve remained stateside, I have developed, quite independently of them, an interest in Asian art, cinema, literature and, of late, philosophy. 

Then, too, there is love affair with the Islands.  What is it about our lives, childhoods in the most common of Midwestern smalltowns, parents with no interest as far as I know in anything Asian, that lead us, all three, by quite different routes to turn our faces east?  It would be easy to cite the ascendance of Asia in the last two decades as a magnetic influence, but in fact all three of us have had our interests prior to those decades.

There is one thing common to all three of us, the wanderlust.  Mom was overseas during WW II and Dad found traveling significant for its own sake.  I suppose this gave us all a sense of rootlessness, or, at least, made it easy to detach ourselves from the familiar, and so opened us to the wide world.  What strange motion in the quantum sphere torqued our attention toward China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan I do not know.  But, it is a fact.

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