As the modern world continues to race toward the future, we can find ourselves constantly groping for radical or material ways to find our identities in it. But while we might be obsessed with going forward and discovering the new, we sometimes forget to look back and to the old — to our own pasts.
Cheuk-Yin To is a photographer we used to work with. One summer evening, we caught up at the office where he shared a special story with us, of how he took a side trip on a whim only to find both his roots and a few long-lost relatives.
“To be honest, it kinda broke the spell a bit. I wanted my ancestral village to be with like, old school donkey carts and stuff. It’s not like that anymore. There’s mopeds, there’s smartphones. Everyone’s in on this now.” — Yin remarking on his unexpectedly modern ancestral “village.”
“Within the next generation, it’s not going to be the same anymore. I don’t think kids these days will actually stay in these villages; they’ll all go to the cities and no one’s going to maintain the traditions.”
“My grand aunt made a feast that could have fed double the amount of people. […] We all ate together and watched TV at the same time, just like every other Chinese family.”
“You can’t describe this experience. If someone else were to find their roots — completely unintentionally…I think that’s the reason why I was so happy.”