Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Year of the Black Water Dragon

In the summer of the Year of the Black Water Dragon, I visited the Middle Kingdom.

I saw the vistas, smelled the air, ate the food, and became one with myself. I learned about ancient monuments and holy sages. I heard about Qin Shǐ Huángdì and the Silk Road. I learned how to walk into tombs with reverence and the magic of jade.

More than all of that, I learned what it was to be a guest in another country. It taught me humility and showed me my own hubris. I saw humble people willing to help a stranger. I saw miraculous technologies and wicked charlatans.

I lived in a back alley hutong in Beijing. I had a glorious hotel in Xi'an. I saw the Bund and the structures in Shànghǎi. I rode the bullet train and climbed the Great Wall at Bādálǐng. I ate street food and saw the night markets.

For a time, I was just one of the many billions of people in the Middle Kingdom. I was encompassed in history and art, in language and culture, in a maelstrom of confusion that led to a blissful existence. I had no worries, other than conversion rates, and learned to truly appreciate what it meant to live in the present.

The trip gave me many story seeds that are still percolating today. It moves me to seek out legends and how the philosophies and teachings could be brought into today's world. It fuels much of what I do.

It has made my gōng fu strong and has made my art stronger.

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