When I first came to Taiwan, I couldn't focus on any details.
The streets looked completely chaotic.
There were LCD lights, Chinese characters, signs, and street vendors everywhere.
My brain told me this was something new and took a freeze frame of the entire scene.
I wasn't ready to dissect the individual parts of a Taiwanese street.
It was just too different. Too complicated.
There is a funny Taiwanese word for white folk that means big or pointy nose.
I have been called this many times, but not in an offensive way.
It is like going to the circus and seeing the acrobats perform.
You can't help but point out the obvious.
Look at that one bend!
That one just swallowed fire!
It's a clown!
Most foreigners who live in my city stay well-hidden.
They usually drive to work and eat western food at home.
When I go to places that Taiwanese people go, it causes a little surprise.
But, let me get back to my point.
In my hometown, no one has ever called me big nose.
That's because I don't have a big nose... or so I thought.
After living in Taiwan for many years, I took a closer inspection at my nose from all angles.
I found out the truth.
I have a big nose... or do I?
After looking at Taiwanese noses day in and day out, I have to conclude what my neighbors knew all along.
I have a big nose.
But what I learned was something much more important.
As I was walking along the same streets I always do, something clicked in my mind.
That freeze frame picture that my brain had taken years earlier was re-interpreted.
New dimensions of the chaos of a Taiwanese street came into focus.
There was only mad chaos to the outsider who couldn't view the world through Taiwanese eyes.
But suddenly everything made sense.
Look at the picture above again.
Each building is built with storefronts (apartments or houses often above them).
Each storefront has an entrance with their name and often special promotions.
Then, the second floor has the store name one more time, but this time placed in a direction that cars and scooters can read them.
Small stands and parking occupies every piece of valuable space in a crowded city.
Maybe you think this is the most obvious thing in the world, but it took years for me to completely figure out.
How strange is it to say we've been to a country when we've only spent two weeks there.
I'm just now beginning to feel I'm been to Taiwan.
Although I've been here awhile, my heart was still back home, but now I'm beginning to see with a new cultural lens, which also leads me to realize that I'll never fully integrate into this place.
My nose is just too big.
This whole blog post is just a reminder that we can never assume we understand something, fully thinking we're 100% right and others are missing it.
It takes the humility to look afresh at the world and the truth therein, not to deny what you believe, but to solidify it (or correct it).
We are all capable to error and how strange that everyone thinks they are right about their beliefs and yet all of us are so limited and prone to corruption.
I'm learning new truths.
Taiwan is not as chaotic as I once believed.
My nose is bigger than I imagined.
And I'm looking for new clarity in all areas of my life.
Big nose or not... Are you willing to take a fresh look at the world around you?