I just read Lee Finds a Way's post and it made me think back to that summer after I graduated from Nativity and immersed myself in Chinese culture. I think Adriana Li went through something like this last summer.
For me it started when I started going through all of my dad's old cassettes and listening to the music that he listened too. I feel like every 14 year old will have some sort of physical genetically programmed awakening where somehow he will seek to be a man. In many cultures there is a built in ritual. For me there wasn't and my Dad had passed on so it was like I was looking for him.
Like, "Initiate Chinese genes NOW!" type of stuff. My mom was watching me curiously as I started practicing Kung Fu from the Wushu I had taken and some of the basics I had done with Jing as a 7 year old (actually the leader of our children's group was a guy named Michael aka Rat Face... and even though he only taught me once and he was like 12 I looked up to him (definitely for worse and not for better) for years later.
My mom talked to our neighbor Eddie Watkins, who, though African American, was immersed in the Kung Fu and also the Chinese culture. He was attending Woo Ching White Crane in Tai Tung and I spent the summer days and nights Kung Fuing cooking, hanging out with older men of all races and listening to their male bonding chatter. There were female students but not a lot.
Interestingly I also started sailing at the same time. Sailing was one dollar for the summer. Kung Fu was much more expensive than that.
I totally had time to do both and in fact my sailing class had Asian students too. (The rich Mandarin speaking type, probably Taiwanese, that technically were not from Boston and actually shouldn't have been in the one dollar for the summer program. They used their grandparents address.)
But somehow I rejected that other side of myself (which I wish I hadn't) and went full into hanging around with people who spoke English with an accent and even picked up Taishanese.
That summer completely changed my life and my worldview.
I feel that I am approaching such a life changing summer this year. Indeed I definitely am. But since I am at the beginning of it... I have only a vague notion of what it will lead to.
There is potential for a road to external greatness... which can be somewhat overwhelming. As a teenager, everything is overwhelming and so nothing matters. But being able to sort of see it coming is different.
It also makes me wonder about my own children and their journey.