One of the top songs at the moment of writing is Bruno Mars‘ “Grenade”. It gets played on almost every radio station I turn to at some point of the day, everyday. Thankfully, I like the song. It has a catchy tune, fun to sing along and play along on the guitar, and it speaks of the near universal experience of unrequited love.
Erotic or romantic love is one of the most powerful human emotions as well as one of the most mysterious. There’s no exact science to calculate why we would be infatuated or enamoured with one person but not another. In reference to the song, for instance, we can legitimately ask, “If she was such a bad woman, how could you love her in the first place? Or even be willing to die for her?” But, alas, that’s the mystery of romantic love. Almost all of us, at some point in our lives, experienced an infatuation or a crush on someone who didn’t feel the same. It is this emotional chord that Bruno Mars’ song plucks – in rather overdramatic fashion – to great success.
It was Chinese New Year yesterday (Feb. 3, 2011). At 6 am, I skyped my siblings in Singapore (13 hours ahead) who were finishing off the traditional family reunion dinner. My sister teased me by showing me and quizzing me if I could still recognize the Chinese dishes my mom cooked. I identified them all – from bamboo shoots to sea cucumbers (it’s NOT a vegetable)! It is times like this that I feel nostalgic and homesick. I miss my mom and her cooking, and I miss my siblings. It’s the price I pay for choosing to live half way round the world from them. But I don’t regret my choice. Nevertheless, at times like this, I miss them.
At times like this, I also inevitably reflect on my identity. Identity is such a complex issue. “Who am I?” is a question that I have wrestled with for a long time. Last month, I told that to a classroom of primarily Diaspora ethnic immigrant church leaders when I guest lectured at a Seminary in Toronto, Canada for a cross-cultural communication course. I was asked to speak on the complexities of identity and culture especially in relation to the Christian faith. I approached the subject from a biographical perspective, telling my own story of identity struggles in relation to my culture(s) and how my Westernized Christian faith actually complicated matters.