long time no see. 🙂 好久不见。
My spirit or mood has not been very peaceful lately because I am working more than I am being compensated for. This is problematic with me because I have a tendency to work until I sacrifice my own personal needs and interests. If I trust you and we are friends, I will usually do more than is expected of me, which is my way because friendship is a two-way street and I will need my friends this way too, but sometimes I can work too hard and there is no reciprocation. That is not good for my health. So there has been much imbalance in my life in this way and so I feel unhappy and unsatisfied with my work and myself.
That is why I haven’t written in my blog. I have not had the energy nor desire to give anything of myself. I feel like I already give too much and nothing is coming back to me.
Today, however, that just changed. Something changed. I was walking back to my flat when I decided that if my life was going to change, I had to make the change myself. I am, after all, American and I may understand the Chinese people a little but I will never be a Chinese person. So I must stop being so passive and sacrificing myself and take more control of my life. Take back the reigns of my situation. As a friend told me: “maintain a balance between being humble and being true to yourself.” I felt very comfortable and at peace with myself for the first time in months and I then began to think of positive, constructive ideas on how to improve my situation. The ideas just started to come to me naturally, they weren’t forced, and I felt a renewed sense of purpose and direction that I haven’t felt since starting the Olympics training.
Then, as I entered my neighborhood Dong Wang Zhuang, out of the corner of my eye, there came from a large white van parked on the side of the street several uniformed policemen. They all jumped out and started to shout at me to get my attention. Then there were more men coming from another direction of the street. I should have been nervous about this, as it was unusual and intimidating–to anyone, but especially to foreigners. To me, my reaction was nothing but usual and comical to me. In this situation, I calmly reached for my passport and red book that I had on my person, and then spoke in Mandarin to the Officer with the clipboard and we together identified my name on his list. It was obviously a check of foreigners and their legal status. After the encounter and brief communication (the officers thanked me and then surrounded another walking foreigner) I walked away surprised at my initial reaction and thoughts.
Truth is, between me and you, my dear reader, I was never scared nor frightened nor worried nor did I feel threatened or alarmed. Instead, and this is quite comical to me, my first thoughts were “do I know any of you? If not, then maybe I know your boss or colleague,” and “hey, you are working very hard today to do your job, let’s go to lunch and drink beer together and talk about cultural difference and pretty women and smoke cigarettes, and then we won’t be strangers.”
Believe it or not, that’s what I thought about, and just knowing that this was my first response to this strange situation unfroze my heart completely. I am so proud of my work here in China because I have made true friends–not an easy thing to do in China–by showing people my true self and being honest with people and opening my heart and trusting. In America, being a trusting person can be considered a vulnerability or weakness, but in China it is welcomed and I am lucky in this way because I am a trusting person who is a little gullible. The Chinese people have never taken advantage of that and so my experiences have been excellent and I think that I am not really a stranger in a strange land. I don’t feel alien. I feel like I am in a friendly place with complicated but friendly people. If I have troubles, I can always count on my friends and to help because they know my heart and my true purpose here and I can count on strangers, like the policemen, to join together for a common goal of communication, mutual prosperity, and peace.
I have worked hard but it has not been for nothing. After the Olympics, my friends will still be here and my experiences will not have changed. The Policemen, like any others, are just potential friends to me. People who can work with me to improve our situation and understanding of each other. With my country at war, that’s an important goal for me personally and professionally. I want to be known as an American who strives to understand and communicate and cooperate with others. An American who wants to teach and learn. An American who works for peace.
The simple experience I had today helped me to realize that I am accomplishing more than just English training here. Today I caught a glimpse of how my thinking and behavior has changed to create a genuine effort of cooperation. If I can do that, more people can too, and there is something really hopeful about that idea. It inspires me. It makes me feel strong and want to encourage and inspire others to do the same.
I think that would sound simple and ridiculous to some of my American friends but it is true. 真的是我的心理。