You invited me over to your house for an evening cup of oolong tea. I was expecting a cup of excellent tea, prepared with meticulous precision, to accompany my last night in Taipei. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what was in store.
You see, what you might not have realized, when you explained to me so passionately how different the process of preparing oolong tea from black tea turns out to be, is that you taught me so much more than how to brew tea; you taught me about life. You taught me that passion, just like brewing tea, always has to be accompanied by patience. Like your clay teapot that gradually shines as you use it over and over, we don’t get to be brilliant without persistence and determination. We don’t master something overnight but who's to say we can’t sit back, relax and enjoy a soothing cup of tea in the process?
You taught me to know how to indulge only when I know how to earn my way there. You taught me that there is nothing selfish about wanting time alone with yourself if that means when we spend time with our loved ones, our body and soul are fully devoted to be there with them.
You and I were born in different countries, many years apart, and our mother tongues couldn’t be more different. For the longest time, on the rare occasions we saw each other, we exchanged polite pleasantries and awkward hugs without saying too much to each other. How could we when we don’t share a common language?
That night, I felt very fortunate to be alive. You showed me the infinite power a language holds. The ghost of conversations that could have happened in the past kept haunting me, as it danced together with the steam coming out of my cup of tea. As I sat there focusing on your words, my mind slowly but surely came to a powerful yet painful realization: all those hours I spent not learning foreign languages are hours wasted that I could never get back. But as the scent of tea wafted in the air, I pressed my lips against the beautifully uneven surface of my handmade clay tea cup. I took a sip, and as the bitterness of the oolong tea my taste buds detected was slowly taken over by undeniable sweetness, I realized that bitterness had no right to take over my life too. That every hour I’m still breathing, I have the power to replace regrets with actions.
Dear cousin, you might think you only invited me for a cup of tea. But, little did you know each cup you poured for me strengthened my will. Thank you for your generosity in sharing the universe you created for yourself with me. Thank you for opening your heart and inviting me to be a part of your life. Thank you for opening up your home and letting me take away pieces of it with me wherever I go.