Summer is finally here in Toronto. Blink, and winter is back.
Toronto summers mean festivals and parties upon parties. Last weekend I wandered around TD Toronto Jazz Fest, Pride, or a beach-side Salsa and Bachata Party. If you do your homework and research, there’s always something wonderful to find.
Best of all, most of these events are at an appropriate price: free.
However, despite the warm sun, clear blue skies and happy Canadians, I’m always daydreaming about being somewhere else — anywhere but here. I crave far-flung places like Colombia, Brazil, Nigeria, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, Spain, Senegal… And yet there was a time when Toronto was wild and exotic to me.
I’d lived my whole life in Asia. To my eyes, anything that wasn’t in Asia (specifically East Asia) was crazy and grand. Toronto? North America? A whole new adventure!
But here I am, 7 years later, in a city that I am proud to call home.
I thirst for newness.
Isn’t this how I waste my life away?
Every moment I spend thinking about somewhere else is a moment lost. I could be appreciating the here and now, yet I indulge in an imaginary future.
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
I don’t have any reason to complain. I used to live in Beijing during a time when it was one of the most polluted cities on Earth. Now, I live in a city where I can actually walk outside and breathe fresh air without choking to death. I live among a tapestry of cultures from all around the world, where people are largely tolerant, polite, and good.
There’s been a buzz in Toronto this summer. Especially since the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championships.
“Enjoy it, enjoy your time and the moments. Just go out there and have fun”
— Kawhi Leonard.
Kawhi Leonard, calm as a cucumber.
Stay in the moment, stay in the zone. Right here, right now. That’s the secret to life. Be here now. The past is gone, the future is fiction. Live well now.
“[Man] is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
— The Dalai Lama
At the TD Jazz Festival, I thought about all the times I saw concerts in other cities. Wasn’t it always similar?
Waiting anxiously for everything to start, enjoying the show, getting tired, wanting to sit down, wanting to savour every moment — yet also wondering how long it’ll take till I can eat something, drink some water, or go to the bathroom…
I felt the same way in New York during Drake’s performance at the Governors Ball.
I felt the same way in Barranquilla in the middle of Marc Anthony’s salsa set.
What happened in New York and in Barranquilla could have happened in Toronto. Why do I lie to myself and think that other places are magically better? Once I get there, it’ll be my new normal.
I can’t escape myself. No matter where I go, my problems and boredoms will come with me. Here, I want to go to the bathroom. In paradise, I will want to go to the bathroom.
Different place, same problem.
I am never going to be fully happy with where I am — and that’s okay.
There’s no need to complain. The more I realize that it’s okay to be unhappy, the happier I become. The weight disappears. I don’t have to pretend that life is perfect. I don’t have to lie.
Funny thing. The more I accept boredom, dissatisfaction, and the bad parts of life…The better life gets. Good and bad are both natural. They’re part of what it means to be alive.
Learning to be okay with where I am is a constant process.
I get it wrong all the time. But it doesn’t matter. I can always try again.