So we were somewhere in the mountains of China. China in Chinese means the Middle Kingdom and you could sense an other-worldly air to the place. I don’t know exactly where we were, and if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you. Why? Because last time that our tour company found a place and it became famous via some tour companies, the Chinese Government evicted the people out of their houses, and turned the houses into museums. There are now tours showing how people used to live in the houses.
At first I thought I would try to do a travel article, which is what I did when I went to Alaska. But I am happy that I just went and did not write anything. I did not even bring a book, which was a first for me. I wanted to just to be. There is great value in just being. (I will, however, write a blog soon about pitching a travel article.)
Bamboo forests holding up the mountain (really–to prevent mud slides) and subsistence farming. The people we stayed with picked the vegetables and then cooked them in a very large wok over a wood-burning stove. Or they bought them from traveling salesmen. They made their own honey; one woman had wooden bee hives right next to her front door. The honey tasted like flowers.
There are more than a billion people in China but each person has a story to tell.
When I think about how to change my life, I think about the little moments that make up life wherever we are. I think about being aware of existence. I think of the memorials for the ancestors set up in the mountains. (They follow a feng shui idea that graves should be in the mountain side with a view of the river.)
Which reminds me that we are here for only a short time but our eternity is endless. So we have to live it up. The Talmud asks, “Who is the rich man? He who is happy with what he has.”
How to change our lives? How do we transform ourselves and make this our best chapter? Bring awareness into each moment. Celebrate being alive. Feel grateful for all that we have. Do you see the little bamboo chair? That is about the extent of their sofa collection. Ikea has yet to conquer inner China.
Here is the thing: Gratitude makes us aware of all we have. Awareness makes us aware of all we have to be grateful for.