Relocating to China saved my life.
Back in 2008 the UK recession triggered by the world banking crisis landed with a mighty force, hitting creative freelancers hard and forcing us to revert to the world of the 9-5.
With a sinking heart, dragging feet and wrapped in a heavy cloak of depression we returned to the plantation to labour under Massa’s orders.
I’ll admit that after two years of struggling financially, between 2008-2010, it was good to finally have a regular means of paying the bills and putting petrol in the car, but the price I paid was ultimately too high.
From being a full time successful self-employed author, editor, playwright, mentor and host who was fortunate to be paid very well to ‘play’; receiving commissions from quality organizations such as BBC Radio Drama, X Press Books, (at the time Europe’s biggest publisher of black authors), Birmingham Repertory Theater and Birmingham City Library, I descended into the soul-destroying construct of working solely to live yet having no quality of life at all.
Many years prior I’d consciously stopped watching television, aware of the damage the many negative images did to my mind and the huge amount of time it wasted.
But six months before getting on the plane to the east, being in a ‘proper job’ sapped all my energy. Consequently I soon knew the TV schedule off by heart from the time I got home on weekday evenings and all weekend.
I no longer went out whereas before socializing had been a natural part of my work. As a creative writer I was invited to plays, talks, dinners and so on. Now, the money the plantation bosses allowed me to have was channeled into every day expenses. There was simply none left over for anything else. I may as well have given my paycheck straight to the gas company, the phone company, the water, electricity and petrol firms.
My life shrunk to the sum total of four activities; work, eat, watch TV, sleep.
Then the next day, rinse and repeat with no clear end in sight.
I became fat and slovenly, my once sharp brain dulled by inactivity. The TV did all of my thinking and my mind turned to mush.
But somehow in the midst of all of this I sought and found the energy to make a change. I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn’t.
It’s now October 2015 and the beginning of my fourth year in Asia and I couldn’t tell you what’s on TV from one day to the next.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to be resourceful, tenacious, patient, adventurous and willing to be stretched mentally and emotionally, not to mention the joys and challenges of learning a new language and understanding a new culture. There’s been days when I wanted to get on the next plane home and days when I imagine myself living here forever.
Either way, in retrospect, I wouldn’t change a single moment of my Chinese journey. It’s re-invigorated me in ways I could never have imagined.
I’ve settled (for now, anyway), on the beautiful, tropical South East China coast from where, according to local rumor, many Chinese people once emigrated to Jamaica, the land of my parents birth. So I guess you could call me a Global Black Woman; born in England of Caribbean parentage and now living in China.
I hope you enjoy my experiences of life in the Orient and perhaps feel inspired to make significant change in your own life.