My friends and acquaintances have a knack for expressing some very wise things. This title statement is a quote from one of them, when he received a postcard from Shanghai with the text from an ancient Chinese philosopher: “Life is a series of spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” He is right: the best results (people and experiences) come to you when you just are and don’t have any kind of agenda or expectation. This is one of the biggest differences between the West and the East. You would never see people running in the street while talking into their mobile phone here. You can do either, but not at the same time. I have never seen a Chinese person in a real hurry. They seem to realise that there is no real “then when”. This “when I have something, I will be happy” is something people create in their minds. I would like to see more people realise that over-performing and always reaching for “something” is, ultimately, an empty undertaking. (Edit: Don’t think that I’m against hard work. On the contrary, it is necessary for development and good if you are interested in what you’re working with. I’m against performing based on ignorance or fear.) Of course, there are people in China who work hard. These are the people we usually hear about in the West. This is usually not their choice: the idea of wealthy parents wanting their child to be a prodigy, and to provide for the family especially if the child is a boy, still lives. Some people have asked me why I’m not married (in rural China, I think I would be much too old to marry already. The pressure is off! Phew! Free to enjoy life!! 😀 ), why I don’t have children, why I don’t have a house or a car. It seems like the picture some of them have of Westerners revolves around performing one’s life away, which is sad, because it is at least in part truthful. It can be hard not to conform, so their wonder is legitimate. When I tell them that I have no intentions to do or get these things, at least for a very long time (if ever?) since I feel like a spring chicken myself still — and probably always will — they aren’t judgmental. On the contrary, they might laugh and say “that’s when you know you decide for yourself how to live. It seems most people don’t even realise when they’re living someone else’s lives than their own.” This is what my friend the director from the train told me. Here I certainly have experienced many moments where life has spoken to me through other people. I wonder how life would have been if I had never left for this distant, strange land which seemed to call me somehow, and which welcomed me and gave me another home. I’m very glad I listened!
Last week there was the Wuhan Marathon, and the flowers were arranged to inform people about the event. My good friend, who is an avid marathon-runner, asked me if there are any other marathons coming up here in the summer, when she’s coming here. There are usually marathons organised at regular intervals. In the summer they have to be arranged during the night, though, because of the sweltering temperature. Some days ago there was a speaking competition held at the School of Foreign Languages. I had some friends who were participating, and I was asked to join in. There were songs, poem readings, dances, and even acting through the competition, which was about showing off the contestants’ English and German-speaking abilities. There are many people and happenings here revolving around French and France as well (Wuhan even has a direct flight connection to Paris). France and Hubei have an interesting shared history of trade and culture.
The subjects were very interesting, ranging from human rights to life choices to the contestants’ favourite books.
Visual evidence of the aforementioned Tianjinese cakes. There are two boxes in the picture. I hope my friend doesn’t mind me sharing these. Surely he didn’t expect me to eat these all by myself. 😀
On hot days people use umbrellas and small fans. The fans have a language of their own, just like flowers in the West.
I give credit to whoever owns this picture. There was a Han girl depicted at the art gallery with a fan. I think she’s saying “follow me”? Or could be that she’s just shy. Perhaps we should start promoting fans as uncomfortability-easers for shy people? 😀