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Inside the Middle Kingdom

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Small moments

What seemed initially like an infinite amount of time here in China is probably soon approaching an end. Now I am busier than ever with school work and I am also conducting research on Chinese education, learning and teaching methods. With my remaining time left, I try to find time to see more of China than the limited, walled-in existence we have had living on the campus of the university this year. Some days our lives consist only of going to the classrooms where we teach or perhaps a nearby coffee shop to work and then back home. About two months ago I noticed myself slipping into a slight depression from this limited existence. The initial curiosity and wonder that we experienced in our earlier months here had started to wear off and I found myself complaining about China, teaching, the food here, and other trivial things and yearning for the comforts of home and the closeness and companionship of friends and family.

Lately I have been trying to make an effort instead to appreciate the little things here in China and not dwell on what may make me unhappy. I have started a catalog of memories from this past year of snapshot moments that ostensibly may seem ordinary but are quite special to me. Some of these moments are humorous, some are bizarre, some are “a-ha” moments, and others are just moving. Some of them I have been lucky enough to share with people dear to me, while other moments I have experienced with strangers. They may be small moments when I am walking home from the supermarket at dusk and catching a glimpse of a group of women doing a slow and delicate tai-chi exercise in a small park on the corner. Or it may be sharing a taxi ride with a driver who is patient enough to converse with me in my broken Chinese and tell me about his sons and wife. Or racing in the back of a motorcycle “rickshaw” to get to the ancient wall of Nanjing before the sun sets so that I can spend the special moment with my friends and be reminded of sweet memories from my childhood and my grandfather on his birthday. I’ve captured all of these moments and know that these are what make life special.
Special sunset at Zhonghuamen- Gate of the Nanjing Wall
Although I can’t completely change myself and the propensity to always stress about the future and what’s ahead, I will certainly try in life to live more for the moment.

Sending all of you my love and hoping that you also are capturing special moments and living in the moment to the fullest.
A kind monk on Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) who penned some words of luck on a red ribbon for me. I've felt blessed the past couple of weeks. :)
Another cataloged moment: Watching some graceful calligraphy in the park
Chinese onlookers watching with curiosity as Derek writes chicken- scratch (I say chicken scratch because the character he is writing is "chicken")