The last few weeks have been characterized by a feeling similar to when I realize I've beaten a game.  It's really a wonderful feeling: the absence of stress, the assurance of victory, but with ongoing excitement.  Before beating the game, it is stressful toiling, not knowing whether I'll make it or not.  After beating the game, it is boring idleness, goal-less and aimless.  In general, I have been very happy the last few weeks, and I realize this is the time to be happy.

I took a day trip to L.A. to meet some friends I met online.  That was fun.  We ate lunch together and hung out at Mitsuwa.  I got to ride in a GT-R R32, and they told me so much history about Initial D World, and about themselves.  It was as if I went back in time 10 years.  I was constantly thinking about how my life was going at the time, while they talked about what was happening in theirs.  It was really interesting.

Unfortunately, I missed the flight back.  That mistake put a big dent in my budget, and so I will be going light on expenses for the next few months; otherwise, I may not beat the game after all.

Last week, I partied hard.  I think it was partly because of the trip to L.A., partly because I had been cutting back, and partly because it was a server's birthday.  Ed invited me for dinner with him on Thursday.  Then, I played board games on Friday with the crew of former co-workers.  A Japanese restaurant server's birthday was also on Friday, so I dropped by afterwards.  It was brutal, and that is another reason why I will be going light for the next few months - to recover.

Throughout the last month or so, I have been rewatching "The Legend of Qianlong", a Chinese drama series that came out way back in 1991, when I watched it the first time.  Interestingly, I still remember many of the important elements in the plot, despite having watched it as a kid, 25 years ago.  This time through, I was more impressed by the insightfulness of the series, now that I'm older and much more mature.  I also thought it was interesting seeing the world in the 17th century, through the 20th century, in the 21st century.  Even in the 25 years that have passed, there are already subtle differences between the actions and thoughts of the actors, when we compare that series with what is being produced today.  It seems that 25 years ago, the focus was on material with a view to instruction and education, whereas in the series of today, the focus is on presentation with a view to entertainment.  I have to say, though, that the series has some priceless dialogue - some lessons that are applicable universally.

Finally, during the last weekend, I began watching Chinese documentaries.  I wanted to learn more about Chinese history, despite having done lots of reading on Wikipedia years before.  I watched one about the "Secret Garden of Qianlong" - a retirement home he had built for himself, which unfortunately, he did not live to enjoy.  I also watched documentary about the "Terracotta Army of the Qin Dynasty", the "Forbidden Palace of the Ming Dynasty", and the "Daming Palace of the Tang Dynasty" - a palace constructed during the Tang dynasty, that was bigger than the Forbidden Palace of today, but which unfortunately no longer exists.  It really might be that China's peak was during the Tang dynasty.  It was a really interesting documentary, and really provoked many questions, and revealed much insight.  In particular, the section on Emperor Xuanzong was particularly unforgettable, as he was characterized as someone who had a great start, but became complacent partway through, and ultimately sowed the seeds of the Tang dynasty's ultimate end.  As an art lover, he shares some parallels with Qianlong, and I consider that as a learned man, Qianlong may have learned from him, and have determined to work hard as a result.

I should also learn from the patterns that have gone before, and it is about time that I get back on track.

May 16, 2018
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