America – The Return

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

This quote, which is the motto of “Life” magazine, is one of the best I’ve heard in a while. I recently watched ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ for the first time–which is where I heard the quote–and loved it. It reminded me of why I decided to uproot myself and move to China over a year ago. I have a strong thirst for adventure that seems only to grow the more experiences I have.

I recently passed my anniversary of starting this blog and in doing so, I’ve gotten a fresh perspective of my life over the past year. The challenges faced, friends met, experiences had, and wisdom gained yet again have culminated to create the person I am today. And in doing so, I have, for the first clear time, discovered my purpose in life. I will be a world traveler.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been different from those around me. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends and I never quite knew why. But now I know myself much better and although I’m still socially awkward at times, I’ve learned to open up in a way that doesn’t make others uncomfortable. Still, I see things differently from most people I know and this allows me to have a unique perspective that I often share with others in their times of need. When I say I want to be a world traveler, what I mean is that I want to travel all over while helping people and making their lives a little better–a little happier.

Many argue over whether or not one person can change the world, but to me, that argument is meaningless as it doesn’t help anyone. So instead of trying to change the world, I will work to benefit the lives of individuals. Because that, I know I can do. For now, I’ll stay here at my school and teach children English, music, art, and gym so that they can grow up to be more successful in an increasingly interconnected world.

Now, I know it’s been a long time yet again since my last entry and as usual, I’ve been through so much. I finished my contract for my first year here and took 6 weeks off to heal my ankle, which I badly sprained doing parkour in the gym at my school, and to go back to America and visit my friends and family.

I first visited my brother and his family just outside Seattle and shortly after arriving, my new camera arrived from Amazon. This is something I’ve wanted for several years, but never bought. But now that I have it, I want to change the focus of this blog. Rather than writing long stories of things I’ve done out here, I will focus more on photography and let my pictures tell the tale. I took over 5000 pictures during the 5 weeks I spent in America and saved just over 600 of the best. Of those, I’ve picked the best ones to share with you all over the next two posts.

So, without further ado, here are the first pictures from my trip. I’ll share the rest from the other trips in subsequent posts.

 

 

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A Touch of History, A Touch of Fame

The incredible sights of Huangshan.

The incredible sights of Huangshan.

Last May I wrote a post about my computer breaking and the inevitable difficulties that shortly followed. Well now I’m happy to say my new computer has arrived at last and among its many functions comes an incredible new ability for me to  write when I’m at home as opposed to only when I’m at work! Plus I have a new VPN that seems to be actually working after my last one decided it had had enough.  My goal now is to share my stories on a more regular basis and avoid weeks of silence like what’s been happening over these past few months.  But enough of that, let’s get into the adventures!

Since you all last heard from me , I’ve taken my first road trip since arriving in China; to Huangshan and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We also took a trip to Huangshan City and explored an ancient street that was built around the time Columbus sailed to America. In addition, I was also on a Chinese game show called 男生女生向前冲 (Nansheng Nusheng Xiang Qian Chong!) –twice! But we’ll get to that.

Earlier this month I cancelled my usual Monday/Tuesday plans of rock climbing, drinking with foreign friends and recovering from drinking with foreign friends because I was invited to take a trip with several of my coworkers. The plan was to meet up with our former Chinese teacher who moved back to her hometown, Huangshan; a city full of lush history and awe-inspiring mountains outside of it. So I woke up at 5:30 Monday morning full of excitement knowing that adventure was on the horizon and after getting everything packed and ready, I set out to meet up with 8 friends at the bus station. As we left the station, we were full of excitement  and greatly looking forward to the clean air and beautiful scenery that awaited. Even my somewhat severe cough and congestion was dwarfed by my anticipation to experience some wilderness. Keep in mind that I had been living in a city with nearly 8 million people for over 6 months and the naturalist in me has been begging for an escape.

Serenity in the mountains.

Serenity in the mountains.

After a few hours of pictures, sleep and a surprising amount of mystery snacks thanks to my Chinese friends, we arrived in a small village where we changed to a different bus that would take us into the mountains to our lodge. Now, I’ve never had much problem with claustrophobia, but when you take a bus with 19 seats and pack 27 people into it and then race down winding mountain roads while blaring your horn at anyone in your path, you make even your most resilient passengers get white knuckles as they cling for survival. That said, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t enjoy the ride.

After an hour or so, we made it to our stop, which was a rest area with–you guessed it–an amazing view all around. We still had a trek ahead of us before we reached our final destination for the day, but it was incredible. I won’t soon forget the moment when we first came upon the bamboo thickets–something that I’ve wanted to see as long as I can remember–and then finally arrived in a small valley with a reservoir in the middle, green all around and peaks in the distance on all sides.

When taking a trip, the right people can make all the difference. I have some great friends.

When taking a trip, the right people can make all the difference. I have some great friends.

After dropping of our packs in our rooms and meeting up with Anna, the aforementioned teacher, we headed out to hike some trails. Along our exploration, we passed one amazing natural feature after another and ended up hopping from rock to rock up a riverbed that distinctly reminded of the rivers in Northern California. When we reached the end of the first trail, I decided to stay behind as everyone else turned back so I could have some much needed peace from all the stimuli of the world; even if it was for only 10 minutes.

After I jogged through the rain forest to catch up with the group, we moved on to another trail that took us through some small caves and up to a shelter that overlooked the valley below. We stopped here for some rest and pictures before continuing on down and circling back to where we started.

At peace in the Forest

By this time, it was dark outside and the sounds of birds and cicadas had been replaced by bats and crickets. We decided it was time for dinner and went to the only restaurant in the area, which was delicious, and then back to our rooms for some card games before going to bed.

The next day we woke up early to catch the tuna can-cramped bus once again to take us to Huangshan city.

As we entered the city, I sat in awe as I took in all the history that this very old place displayed in it’s architecture and character. After dropping off our belongings in the hotel and eating at a local restaurant that served dishes famous of this area, we headed to the famous Tunxi Old Street to experience a blast from the past and open a window to another time in the history of our world.

Tunxi Old Street holds a fascinating glimpse into history.

Tunxi Old Street holds a fascinating glimpse into history.

Among the plentiful souvenir and knickknack shops, We visited a small medicine shop that is over 100 years old and still selling the same ancient remedies, as well as a shop that sells rare and extremely expensive statues from China’s history and a few stores that specialize solely in brushes, paper, and ink for writing scrolls; all this on a street that is so well known for it’s history that it has been used as a backdrop for numerous Chinese films over the years.

Although I only spent 2 days in Huangshan and the surrounding area, it was a much needed escape and one I will remember for years to come. But that’s not the most memorable adventure I’m going to tell you about. And the next one comes with a video as well.

A couple months ago, the owner of our center asked me if I’d be interested in being on a Chinese TV show and do an obstacle course based here in Hefei. Of course, I was all for the idea. The main problem was that the wait list to appear is over 10,000 people and is always growing. I had all but given up on the idea until I mentioned it to my good friend, Zhazha and he said his friend is a camera man there and he’ll see what I can do.

A few days later, I got a call from someone speaking very fast Chinese and the only thing I understood was the name of the TV show, so I gave her Zhazha’s number so she could call him instead. Shortly afterwords, Zhazha texted me and said that I would be on the show the following day. (Welcome to my life in China).

The next morning I woke up at 5 so I could shower, eat breakfast and make it to Zhazha’s home by 6 so that we could make it to the TV station by 7. After arriving and filling out the required forms, we were all led inside to change into our “sporty” clothes and then walked through the obstacle course and given all the safety precautions. Unfortunately for me, Zhazha was my translator and his English isn’t very good. Fortunately for me, there happened to be 5 Egyptian guys there as well with their own translators, so I just stuck close to them.

Finally, we were all led into a small waiting room behind the stage where we stayed until our turns. All of the ladies went first and I was 3rd last of the 35 men, so by the time I went, it had been about 7 hours since I had eaten and I was famished. But duty called and I drank a bunch of water and charged out to greet it.

As many of you may know, I’ve intentionally put myself outside of my comfort zone repeatedly since arriving here in an effort to get the most out of my experience, but none of that really prepared me for this. That said, I did have a great time. I’ve watched TV shows with obstacle courses many times throughout my life and when someone falls, it’s easy to think that we could have done better, but I can honestly say that this was much harder in person than it looks on TV.

You can see my go at the course right here. It should skip to where I started, but if not, feel free to jump to 32:45. In case you’re wondering, at the beginning, they are saying that I look like Orlando Bloom. And at the end, he asked me if I wanted to say anything to my parents and I said 我爱你 (I love you) and 我爱中国 (I love China). Also, the shirt I wore is the one I teach in–can’t go wrong with representing one’s school! Of the 35 men who competed that day, 4 of us finished and I found out later that I was the first foreigner to ever complete the obstacle course so it’s pretty cool making history in such a big country. Plus I won a reverse osmosis water filter worth about $400 so that’s pretty awesome as well.

A few days later they asked me to return for the semi finals and I did. This time it was a timed competition and they gave us matching uniforms and had us do a super-stylish choreographed dance at the beginning. I was also interviewed in Chinese before I went this time. But my confidence was literally my downfall and I ended up taking a spill about 1/3 of the way through. That said, I’m still ecstatic for the opportunity and experience I had. That video has not been broadcasted yet, but I’ll put a link to it in my next post.

Well it’s hard to think that my next story will top this one, and in some ways, it won’t. But I have some big plans for October and many more experiences to share! Until then, cheers and thanks for reading!

Exchanging Culture

It really amazes me when I consider all of the opportunities that have been presented to me out here. Just over the past weeks since my last post I have taught two rock climbing classes to kids ages 6-8, I was a judge at a children’s modelling competition and two nights ago I hosted my first dinner party for my coworkers. The list goes on and I have several other exciting plans in the works, but I’ll share them as they come.

7e6be5f8jw1e7bt6u040bj20mr0dlacjNow, those of you who have been following my story since the beginning know that for the first several months here, the only climbing I did was at a small bouldering wall at nearby pub–aside from one trip down to the university 2 months ago. But that’s not the case anymore now that my friend Zha Zha has his own climbing wall much closer to my apartment. We have a deal that I can climb there for free as long as I help him teach the kids–not a bad deal if I do say so myself. We played a game where one kid and I would start on opposite sides of the wall and traverse until we met each other. Then we would play rock, paper, scissors (or paper, scissors, stone as its called here) and the loser had to climb around the outside of the winner and continue to the other side. It was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again!

So last week I was asked to be a judge for the 2013 New Silk Road China International Children’s Model Competition (a mouthful, I know). I’ve made a rule for myself out here to never turn down an opportunity, no matter how intimidating it may be. And this is a nationally televised competition and I judged during the finals for Anhui province. Among the judges were a few professional models and bigwigs in the fashion industry, and an American with no experience doing anything like this. Ever.ed493e5d-a02f-4787-b7b5-0b656ae8306bwallpaper

3920e354-f273-468b-8004-1589dc03c359wallpaperI couldn’t understand most of what was being said by the announcers, but it was still a really cool experience. To be honest, I wasn’t overly fond of a few of the outfits that reminded me of that TV show in America, Toddlers in Tiaras, but it wasn’t as bad. I really enjoyed the talent portion though. It was like watching those YouTube videos of talented Asian kids. But much more awesome of course.

5418bc64-bdc1-4bde-afe3-5cbad0a5822bwallpaperAlthough I was given absolutely no 2b8ad18e-cc8e-4513-a44d-9311508f0139wallpaperinstruction as to what I should be doing, I made it through and even gave a short speech praising the kids for their creativity, cleverness, and talents. It was a great experience that I won’t forget. It’s not everyday you get an opportunity to be on TV in another country!

— — —

IMG_0573So of all the foods that I can’t find out here, I would have to say I miss Mexican food the most. Oh what I would give for a great taco or burrito out here. But two nights ago I finally made some nachos. I had to go to 3 different stores to get all the makings for them and it cost me a small fortune. All they were missing were some avocados. My Chinese friends and I loved them though, so it was well worth it. I also made what is probably the best spaghetti I’ve ever made and an ingenious almond appetizer that included soaking and peeling them then roasting them with salt, Italian herbs and olive oil. Combine that with some good ‘ol dark beer and Go Fish and you’ve got yourself a recipe for one crazy night!

After all I’ve been through out here and how I’ve grown, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I really want to do with my life. What great contribution can I make to this world? What legacy can I build? I do my best to spread happiness everywhere I go because it brings me happiness as well. But lately, I’ve had a feeling building up that I have a strong purpose in life and as cliche as that may be, I hope to find it. Whatever it may be, I know the future holds great potential and I’m filled with excitement each day as it unravels before me.

Cheers.

What Will Happen Next?

Giving my podpoi a spin at Xiaoyaojin park.

Giving my podpoi a spin at Xiaoyaojin park.

It is said that through our greatest difficulties, we discover our true selves; we make the greatest strides in our characters during our most daunting challenges. Whether it’s illness, injury, loss of loved ones or material items, a new job or big promotion, a college career, or a new city or country. Such difficulties test our spirits while providing us with the opportunity to learn and grow.

It’s no secret that I’ve faced many challenges since I arrived here, but I cherish each one as they’ve pushed my boundaries of what I thought I was capable of doing. I feel a sense of bliss when I think about all of the changes I’ve made in my life.

I’ve written about change several times before and those of you who have read my posts know that I am a big proponent of having it in my life. I believe that my acceptance of and desire for change is a major part of why I’m here now. In an ironic way, change is the only constant in my life. And I’ve gotta say, some days I feel a little like Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“Who are you?” Asked the Caterpillar.
“I-I hardly know, Sir, just at present,” Alice replied, rather shyly. “I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.”

In the time since my last post, not only have I changed some more, but my circumstances have as well. I’ve faced difficulties, made new friends and learned a lot in the process. Let’s jump back to last week.

After some relaxing time during my days off Monday and Tuesday, I was invited to go out with our newest Chinese teacher, Elva, as well as her husband and former coworkers. So I hopped on my electric moped and parked it at a mall near the restaurant and met up with them. Among her friends was Carl, an Englishman who has been teaching here in Hefei for 4 1/2 years. We all had a good time together and it was refreshing meeting more people who speak English. Afterwards, Carl invited me over to his apartment to hang out so we headed back to my moped so I could drive us there.

Now, I knew that I had parked it in a safer part of town, but it was nearly midnight by now and the place was all but deserted. As I unlocked my bike and got ready to go, I discovered that my batteries had been stolen while we were in the restaurant. Now, I knew it would be fairly expensive to replace them, but surprisingly it didn’t really bother me and we just grabbed a taxi and pressed on. Since I no longer had to drive home, I ended up drinking quite a lot and was proud that I was able to catch a taxi and make it home with no more problems.

Since that night, I’ve gone to Carl’s apartment twice and met about 6 other foreigners, mostly from the U.K., but two Americans as well. Its great finally having some friends who are foreigners. I also have new batteries thanks to my Center, but they came with a 700 RMB price tag (Just under $120). These batteries last noticeably longer though.

One if the things I’ve learned since coming out here is that after arriving, most foreigners try to find other expats to befriend. This is great to help with the culture shock and homesickness, but it can seriously limit how much one experiences the culture. Since I had been out here for 4 months before making any foreign friends, I had the opportunity to jump in with both feet and I am very grateful for that. I’m more comfortable and independent being on my own here than I would be if I had built a bubble of friends right away.

Now, to make sure that doesn’t change as I spend more time with my friends, I’ve made a promise to myself to also spend more time with the locals. I’m telling you all this so I can remain accountable.

Playing guitar at Xiaoyaojin Park

Playing guitar at Xiaoyaojin Park

So far, I’ve done a pretty good job. Last week I went back to Xiaoyaojin park with my guitar, but this time I was joined by one of my fellow teachers, Winnie, who took pictures and translated. I brought my poi this time as well. We had a good time and made some new friends who joined us at the bar a few nights ago. I’m getting more and more comfortable pushing my boundaries.

Earlier tonight, I took my guitar and poi down to the courtyard in my apartment complex and made a few more Chinese friends. I even got invited to go on a road trip to hike up Huangshan (try googling Bridge of the Immortals), but unfortunately my schedule won’t allow it. Don’t worry, I will go there someday.

After the sky became dark, I put my guitar away and pulled out my poi. I always love people’s reactions when they see me spin my lights, I even had a Chinese girl tell me that I’m handsome and perfect, but I wonder if that’s all the English she knows. After I had been performing for about an hour, I had a 15 minute conversation with an elderly Chinese lady that consisted of her chatting it up and me repeatedly telling her that she’s talking too fast and I can’t understand her. After she left, I packed up and headed back home. I’m getting very comfortable with these little performances.

The more time I spend here and the deeper I immerse myself, the more at home I feel here. And while my future remains uncertain, you can be sure that I’ll keep my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground.

Finding True Love

Photography-Love-Wallpapers-Backgrounds

As many of us are well aware, the world of media is flooded with attempts to manipulate our emotions, our thoughts, and our desires. Among the most widely exploited as well as most sensitive is the concept of love. While each of us searches for our “one and only” our senses are relentlessly stimulated by movies, images, and thoughts about our perfect match. She/he who recognizes our strengths as well as our flaws and accepts us completely. The one who holds a place in our heads and our hearts for years to come.

Many search their whole lives without finding someone to grow old with; while others find them during childhood. Is this fair? Does fairness really matter? Maybe, maybe not. After all, if the world had always been fair, the dinosaurs would still be here; instead of being unfairly decimated by a meteor and rising temperatures. It’s a lack of fairness that forced our distant ancestors to evolve over millions of years into who we are now.

But I digress. What I was talking love fingersabout is sexual attraction and love. Like everyone else, this is something that I have put much thought into. What will my future wife be like? How will her eyes capture mine? What will her personality be like? But when it comes down to it, we have no way of knowing what our special someone is like, especially if we are still getting to know ourselves. It feels good to think about “the perfect someone” but it is a tragedy to cling to that one image when it can cause us to miss out on someone with whom we could happily spend our lives. After all, what more could we ask for?

This has been something that I’ve struggled with throughout my life. When I consider having a relationship with a lady, I think about the possibility of it going somewhere and if I don’t see a strong potential, I back off. Yes this is a difficult and harsh way to look at it, but I trust my emotions and my instinct. They haven’t let me down yet.

Luckily for me, I have several role models who I can look to for guidance. Each of my five older brothers are either married or in serious relationships with wonderful women. While each of my new sisters are different, they all are incredible individuals who I’m happy to call family. The variety in their personalities makes me curious and excited about what kind of lady I will ultimately introduce to my family.

— — —

Ever since I told my friends and family that I got a job in China, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I will bring home a Chinese wife. Additionally, I’ve been asked numerous times since I got here whether or not I will marry a Chinese girl or an American girl. One thing that I’ve learned is that I can’t choose like that. It’s simply not how life works.

What I can say is that I know there is a lady out there who I will be honored to share my life with. But until that time comes, I will work towards making myself the man she would like to spend her life with. I will better myself with each passing day. Many of us are searching for a lifelong partner, but many forget that we need to be great for them as well. This is a disconnect that I feel troubles many.

I don’t necessarily mean we should carve ourselves into the “perfect” person; especially  when we have no way of knowing what perfection really is. But I am a big fan of remaining flexible. We can see by observing nature and history that flexibility outlasts rigidity. The same can be true in our everyday lives, including our love lives.hearts-0

But how is any of this helpful or practical wisdom? To me, the inherent wisdom comes from acknowledging that out of the billions of people on this planet, there is more than one lady with whom I would be happy to spend my life. Plus, realistically speaking, finding “the one” out of billions is outlandish.

So what I will do is focus on getting to know myself. At the same time, I’ll remain open to experiences and relationships as they reveal themselves. Maybe I’ll get a Chinese girlfriend. But if I do, it won’t be just so I can say that I had a Chinese girlfriend, it will be because I meet a smart, charming girl who I like to spend time with. That said, I would love to find a girl like that while I’m out here.

Putting Yourself Out There

I love rereading my previous posts because they give me fresh perspective and they allow me to see things that I may want to clarify; which is just what I’m going to do.

In my last blog post, which can be found here, I wrote about the idea of good and bad as we perceive them. I don’t want to seem like I dismiss the existence of good and bad; I just want to share the wisdom that both of them are based upon our perceptions and our expectations. I strongly believe that each of us has the power to look at our individual circumstances and see the lessons residing within.

I also wrote about looking on the bright side of life, but I don’t mean ignore the problems we face nor the troubling state of many parts of the world. What I mean is that life will consistently throw curveballs at us in our personal, professional, or financial lives, but we do have the capacity to learn from the experience and grow wiser. To me, this is what it means to look on the bright side of life.

Many people say that you can control your emotions, and to some degree, this is true. But I feel that many do so in a way that ends up coming back to them down the road. I prefer to let my emotions arise as they will and then let them pass as without attachment as quickly as they surfaced. I’ve found that this has been the healthiest way for me to live my life. It allows me to trust and value my emotions as wells as my instincts, without letting them dominate my thinking or my direction.

Throughout many of my writings, I will use quotes and proverbs that many of you will have already heard. I do this not to pretentiously seem enlightened or superior–in fact, I know that I am neither enlightened nor superior to anyone else, just like I’m not inferior to anyone else. I do this with the hope of bringing fresh perspective on ancient wisdom.

If I were to use the famous quote by Gandhi, “We must be the change that we wish to see in the world.” Its easy to think of this as a cliché, “Nice reminder, good quote. Heard it before.” But if we take these ideals and wisdom to heart and apply them to our lives, we begin to see the world in a new light. I know each of us can do just that, and if we do, we help not only ourselves, but we make the world a little bit better.

In the beginning of my first post, I wrote that if we are to change the paradigm in which we live, we must first change our perspectives. The quote above is but one example of a small change that can ripple into bigger, more positive changes down the road.

It’s been over 2 months since I arrived in China and as I started getting into a routine, I realized that my comfort zone had not expanded much lately. In an effort to push my boundaries, I decided to take my guitar and head down to Xiaoyaojin park to perform for the locals.

IMAG1485-1

Yarrrr!

I want to mention here that I’ve been missing one of my front teeth since my nephew head-butted it out back in October; so I’ve faced difficulties in maintaining my full confidence in front of strangers. However, I’ve found that it only affects me when I allow it to do so. I will have it fixed in due time so why should I let it affect me now?

After a stroll around the park, I attempted to play near the serenity of the river, but was attacked by a swarm of flies. So I pressed on and found the perfect place to play near the statue of Zhang Liao. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous to put myself out there, but I kept reminding myself that it will make for a great memory regardless of how it goes.

Now, I must say that being a foreigner, I draw some attention everywhere I go, but as soon as I pulled out my guitar, several people immediately gathered around to watch. I played two songs by my brother, Alex, Swing Life Away, by Rise Against and Pumped up Kicks, by Foster the People, as well as many others. At one point I looked up and had about 25 people crowded around me and most of them were capturing the moment with their phones.

Zhang Liao Statue

I performed just off to the right of this statue

I kept my guitar case closed to donations, but I did have a girl give me a bouquet of roses before she left. I had several girls take their pictures with me directly and a few others not-so-stealthily pose behind me. There was also this one elderly lady who insisted in chatting it up with me even though I kept telling here that she was talking too fast and that I couldn’t understand her. She seemed nice though, so I gave her the bouquet of roses and left after about an hour of performing. I had such a great time that I’ll be going back again and again, next time I’ll get pictures to share as well!

Even if I had performed poorly or if people weren’t interested in my performance, I would still be proud of myself for not allowing fear to paralyze me into inaction. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging about my story, although I am quite proud of overcoming my fears. I wanted to share this story to inspire each of you to take chances. Its so easy to get into a comfortable routine and remain inside our “bubbles” but believe me, we were meant to live, so let’s live! Get up and take chances! Push your boundaries! Look and see that you are far more than you realize! Don’t worry, you’re already free!

Hakuna Matata

I’m going to start this post with a story that I first read in what could be my favorite book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior; a book that changed my perspective on life.

Horse and PlowAn old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow. One day, the horse ran away. 

“How Terrible,” sympathized the neighbors. “What bad luck.”
“Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” the farmer replied.

A week later, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.

“What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors.
“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.

The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg.

“How Terrible. What bad luck!” “Bad luck? Good luck?”

The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war, but the farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared.

“Good? Bad?”

Last Week I had a day that reminded me of this story. After a long day working from 9am till 7:30pm I packed up my computer and other belongings into my backpack and hopped on my moped to head back to my apartment. In an effort to keep my legs strong from my biking days back in America I recently started taking the stairs up to my 12th floor apartment once a day. This night I hauled my two heavy batteries up to charge as well. I came inside only to remember that I needed to go grocery shopping to make dinner. After plopping my backpack on my bed, I grabbed my batteries and headed back down.

The air quality had been abysmal recently, which hadn’t dropped below 150ppm 2.5 in a few days. Thus hiding the blue sky in a nice haze and making it very difficult to predict the weather by checking the sky. Additionally I’d been fighting a sore throat and a cough, again from the poor air quality. Nevertheless, I put on my pollution mask and headed back out, looking forward to some fresh fruits and vegetables for dinner and pressed on.

After about 45 minutes in the store, I had loaded up my cart with produce and 2 bottles of Chinese wine, (which was awful, by the way) once again overestimating how much I can carry on my little moped. After paying for my groceries I headed outside to see that it was now pouring rain and my moped was now in a couple of inches of water. Plus I didn’t bring a coat.

Now, those of you who know me know that I will wear my shoes long into the point where they have holes in them and my right shoe was no exception in this case. Left was fine and dry though. (Score!) With some creativity, I attached all of my groceries to my bike and made it back home without incident, although soaking wet. Its not an adventure until something goes wrong!

Knowing that I wouldn’t have the energy to cook, I bought several mystery dumplings for dinner. (I really need to work on my Chinese words for food.) They were all great except for one which tasted like it was stuffed with ocean water. After watching a few episodes of the Colbert Report to keep up with my current events in America, I headed to bed. A good end to a long day.

Thinking about that day reminded me of the story above and the “bad luck” that seems to plague us some days. I wanted to share it because I had many reasons to be upset throughout the day. But even good reasons can hold us back from our potential happiness, but why should we let them? I could have cursed the world for my difficulties. I could have allowed each “problem” to make me more and more upset, culminating in a highly stressful day, but instead I let life play itself out and chose to look on the bright side.

My point in telling this story is that stress only shows itself when we resist what happens in our lives. Furthermore, we can’t know whether events in our lives will ultimately be for our highest good and learning. So when we face difficulties, we can think to ourselves: “Good? Bad? Who knows?”

Each week at Romp N’ Roll, we have a new theme around which our classes are based. Our theme this week was “In the Jungle” which has brought back memories of some of my favorite childhood movies, hence the title of this post. I’m going to finish up for now, but I’ll have a new post in a few days to talk a little more about the subject of good and bad. Do you agree with me on this? Or is it ludicrous? Have any questions? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!

Cheers and Hakuna Matata

JoshHakuna Matata