It was growing apparent that the students of the academy had one thing in common, they were lost in some way.
Late in the afternoon of his first training day, Andrew had his first proper conversation with the second Englishman of the group. Alex had been in town working as a teacher when Andrew arrived two days earlier. His time at the academy had totalled 8 months.
Early in his stay, Alex adopted the two dogs that Andrew assumed were those of the academy. According to him, they had only been a week or two old at the time, both managing to survive the winter. He had become custodian of the spirited brothers Henry and Hugo.
Like a miner, Andrew began to extract pieces of information from the English fellow. Speaking with a lisp, Alex explained that he had been one of the many forging a career in the corporate world until he realised it was a far cry from what he truly wanted to do.
He loved acting and theatre and in fact had studied the subject at University acquiring a degree in the process. Though, as he climbed the corporate ladder, his time outside of work shrunk and doors closed.
When asked about the inevitable future, a subtle wince crossed Alex’s face, almost imperceptible to the naked eye. ‘No idea’ he said with a sigh. ‘The only thing I know for sure is I plan on adopting these two and taking them back with me. It’s expensive business though’.
We all need a goal, Andrew thought, as Alex broke down the expenditure of the transfer. Having something to aim for provides fuel for action. It made sense now that Alex spent his weekends commuting into town to work while also carrying out jobs at the academy.
Andrew’s attention was brought back to the present when Alex mentioned he planned to stay at the academy for another year in order to accumulate the funds necessary to adopt the two pups. Ironic, Andrew mused. Dogs were a considerable responsibility. Adopting the mutts would anchor Alex to a place, would they not? Perhaps he would look to pursue his passions on his return to England instead of returning to the corporate world, and this would be the difference forced by his foray to China.
Andrew walked away from the conversation both encouraged and disheartened. Maybe no one has it worked out.
He thought of a clever quote from the novel he was reading, The Best Seller, which resonated with him at that moment, ‘You don’t become a stallion by winning the rat race’. Alex had certainly recognised this.