A beautiful clear day along Nanfei River
“Wake up! If you knew for certain you had a terminal illness–if you had little time left to live–you would waste precious little of it! Well, I’m telling you…you do have a terminal illness: It’s called birth. You don’t have more than a few years left. No one does! So be happy now, without reason–or you will never be at all.”
What a nice fishing area.
This quote is one of many similar quotes that have helped me in more ways than I can express. But I’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about things here in Hefei, China.
Nearly 3 weeks have passed since my last post and once again, my experience has been peppered with new experiences and adventures. I’ve tested the limits of my new ebike batteries (about 45 miles), I’ve tried new foods, started martial arts training, made new friends, both Chinese and foreign, and thrived all the while. Rather than going into detail of everything like I usually do, I’ll have to do quite a bit of summarizing on this one.
About 2 weeks ago, I finally found the main community of foreigners here in Hefei. I got an invitation to go to the Hefei Expat Bar that’s run by Aussie Mike, who is somewhat of a legend among expats here. Upon arriving at the bar, I was greeted by several new foreigners from all over the globe and ended up meeting 20-30 of them that night. The theme for the party was Canada Day and we celebrated by drinking whiskey shots with maple syrup, which was pretty awful. After a few hours we all migrated to a different bar called Stone and Wood because it has air conditioning and no angry, bottle-throwing neighbors to upset.
This bar was much better and it’s where I met my new Chinese friends. They came by to tell me that their friend thinks I’m handsome, but she was too shy and ran out the door when they told me. Ahh Chinese women. Anyway, I drank with them for a while and they invited me to their art studio where they do oil paintings. I eagerly agreed since I used to paint quite a bit in America and I would love to give oil paint a try. After a long night of celebrating, I finally made it back to my apartment as the sun started to rise.
I don’t need to go into too much detail about the next day, but I will say that I was more tired than I’ve been since I first arrived in China and that the summer heat here makes it much worse. Also mixing alcohol is never a good idea.
Let’s skip ahead to earlier this week. I spent Monday morning at a mixed martial arts gym with a Bulgarian guy that I met at Stone and Wood named Elizar. Ironically, he specializes in Chinese Kong Fu, but we mainly focused on boxing, sparring, and knife defense. It was the first self-defense lesson I’ve ever had and I’ll be going back there every Monday from now on.
On Monday night I went back to Knight Bar to climb again and made friends with several Chinese rock climbers so that was a nice experience. I climbed my heart out and at the time of writing this on Wednesday, I’m still sore all over from both experiences. But I really can’t complain; after all, that’s how we know we’re doing it right!
So I wrote about my friends’ art studio and I did go there last week, but I didn’t have enough time to do any painting. I went there again yesterday, but I brought my guitar this time and once again didn’t paint anything. I did have a hell of a time though. I rode my ebike all the way there, which was about a 30 min. ride, and tried new Chinese food. As it turns out, chicken feet, which are highly popular here, are exactly as good as I expected. Which is not at all.
One of Rui’s paintings.
A great painting. I’m not sure who made this one
I still can’t believe how real this one looks. well done Wong Shan
I was extremely impressed with the art that was scattered throughout the studio; ranging from beautiful landscapes to lifelike stills to dreamscapes. Most of the artists I met studied it in college and it really showed in their work.
The quote at the top of this post is from my favorite author, Dan Millman, and it has helped shape my life perspective. When I first read it, I thought of many similar quotes; “We only have one life to live.” or “Life’s short, live it to the fullest.” But like those clichés, I read this one only to think to myself “Good point, heard it before.” Later, after pondering it further, I realized the truth within the words. It reminded me of what nearly every child is told as they grow up, “You can do whatever you want in your life.”
While this is a great idea to spread and it gives us a warm feeling inside, I’ve found that it isn’t particularly effective unless it is followed by real-world application. For instance, it wasn’t until let go of the social constraints of what I’m “supposed to do” that I realized I really can do anything with my life. It wasn’t until I had a flight itinerary to Beijing that I truly believed that I could travel the world.
I’m trying to find the best way to articulate what I mean without writing a novel, so here it goes. In order for us to fully realize our freedom and potential in this world, we must test it. So take chances! Ray Bradbury had it right when he said, “You’ve got to jump off cliffs and build your wings on the way down.”
Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m putting myself on a pedestal, as that is not my goal. Also my balance isn’t that great. There are countless others who have done much more than I have in my life and I know very well that I’m still quite young and I have much to learn. But I don’t think we need to constantly compare ourselves to others. I prefer to see who I’ve been in the past and how far I’ve come. This helps give me a better perspective of who I am, as well as who I wish to become.
I apologize that my posts have become more and more infrequent, but as our center gains more members, I teach more classes and have less time to write. This is great though, because it shows me that I’m doing well as a teacher and it means we will need a second foreign teacher in the coming months. That said, I finally ordered a new computer and when it comes, I’ll focus on writing more often. On a side note, if you’d like to see more pictures from my recent adventures, you can see them here.
As usual, thanks for reading,