“My mother once told me an old Chinese parable. Long ago a mother and her young son lived near a marketplace. Every day when the son played he pretended to buy and sell sticks he found on the street, haggling over prices with his friends. The mother decided to move. They settled into a house next to a cemetery. Now when the son played he burned incense sticks and sang songs to dead ancestors. The mother decided to move again. She found a home across the road from a university. The son now spent all of his free-time reading books about mathematics, science and history. The mother and her son stayed there for a long, long time.” (p. 23-24)
The above quote comes from the graphic novel, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. This quote/story actually really resonates with my own experience. I basically believe that the moral of the story is that life will often change for most of us and bring us to new places. As we come to these new points in our lives one must often learn to adapt to our new environment. If you do not learn to adapt, it might be very hard for you to enjoy yourself or even survive.
This quote made me think about some of the changes I was forced to face in my life often due to the choices of my parents. Lets face it, when we are younger we don’t really have much of a say over where we would like to choose to live. Just like the boy in the story mentioned above, I was often having to move to new homes when I was younger. Each time I moved someplace new, I was forced to learn to adapt so I could fit in. For example, much of my childhood was spent hopping back and forth between different parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island. My parents had separated when I was younger, and at points I would spend my life being passed back and forth between parents like I was a hot potato. Much like the boy in the old Chinese parable, even the games I played would change depending on where I was staying. Whenever I would stay in Brooklyn I would hang out a lot more with my black and spanish friends. However, most of my friends in Staten Island were Italian or Jewish. Different environments usually have different types of culture and the two different cultures affected my life greatly. In Brooklyn, I spent many nights with friends on the basketball courts or in public parks. In Staten Island, many of my friends and I practically lived at the roller skating rink. The truth is even the way people dressed was completely different. At one point while in high school I briefly transferred to a new high school in Staten Island. When I started classes, I was overwhelmed with how different this high school was compared to my old one in Brooklyn. The way people dressed was different, the way people spoke was different, even the way the teacher’s taught their classes was different. The truth is I was so stressed from the extreme differences that I ended up transferring back to my old high school just a few weeks later. My life experiences have taught me that we are in many ways like chameleons, we must learn to adapt to our surroundings.