It was over thirty years ago, the term after I broke my back skydiving, and the height of the now forgotten Falkland Island Crisis. My life was in a bit of a crisis, too. I took a break from MSU and studied for a term in London, being mindful to call my parents collect every Sunday assure them I was still alive.
Between pub crawls and snapping pictures of Soho skinheads, I managed to visit a few museums. The most memorable museum item wasn’t a painting on a wall, but an old guard, with one of those long haired moles. He looked at me in my Timberland boots and said,
“If you want to experience the world, go to Hong Kong.”
Really? Hong Kong?
Well, thirty years later, I finally got there.
A friend from my college days sent me a message that he’d be traveling to Hong Kong for business. This friend wasn’t a former punk rocker from London, but a coworker from Michigan State’s library, a computer science major from Dearborn named Jeff.
Jeff was doing things a lot more impressive than clearing paper jams from Xerox machines. His high tech job routinely brought him to Asia.
I cashed in on take that museum guard’s advice. I got a cheap ticket, hopped on a plane and traveled back in time thirty years.
Meeting up with an old college friend is weird and fun and everything between.
We hadn’t seen each other in the flesh since the days of feathered bangs and Magnum PI mustaches, before my hair went grey, before some of his went AWOL. But we talked about the same topic we always talked about at college:
I confessed how lately I felt as if I had lost my faith. Not like losing my car keys and could retrace my steps to find it–but like a soldier who lost his arms in battle, blow off completely. The only thing I had left was ghost sensations of where my faith used to be.
Jeff laughed. He reminded me that our faith grows and changes, just like we had. It shouldn’t be the same faith we had in college any more than our cars should be the same.
We talked about how that God is bigger than any box we can put Him in. And the best way to keep faith alive is not trying to prove it.
While wandering down the old streets of the Kowloon district, we talked about our accomplishments and our miserable failures, how life wasn’t anything like we imagined it to be, back in the day when computer programmers were still using punch cards and I had a gigantic foam rubber Buddha in my dorm room. Who’d ever thunk I end up living in China teaching kids a few things about dipthongs.
My friend me something else I really needed to hear: that it was OK my current goal was just to binge watch Homeland.
Jeff’s co-worker was with us, a young Later Day Saint. He brought a new dimension to our faith conversation and introduced us to something really important: Tim Tam Slams.
After spending a weekend thinking about how I spend my past thirty some years, I said goodbye to my friend and to Hong Kong. I didn’t see much of the sites on postcards, but I did get a better view of my life’s journey, from someone who knew me before I started it.
I also left wondering about the museum guard. Just imagine if he would’ve said, “You go to go to Cleveland.”