Well, not exactly “from” China.. I came back last Tuesday, haven’t blogged anything from there, not because I was unable to, as I feared before I leave, in fact I haven’t even tried logging into WordPress while in Beijing.. I haven’t blogged because I totally immersed myself in the experience and lost myself out there, cut all ties with my “usual self”, if you know what I mean, and lived as if these days are the only life I know. This is a weird thing to say considering that this was, in fact, a work trip, but I did my best to get the most out of it.. Of course having a great entourage of newly met friends helped a lot, for 21 days they were the only family I have, and I met them only on this trip! And now I can say that this is by far the best trip and most beautiful experience I had.
China is a planet of its own, totally different place and culture, it has its own style and its own rules, this is something we all already know, but hearing about something and getting to ‘live it’ are tow different things.
As an Arab my main source of information on China, cultural wise, was mainly Western media, Hollywood movies, that portrays China as the Big Bad Wolf. The Arab media only talks about China in terms of politics, so not much information about the people of China is known to me, not as much as I thought anyway.
China remains this same old conservative closed giant, who does not like to spread much information about itself.. If you want to know china, then you go to China, China does not come to you. Same policy of closed doors and isolation that helped preserve Chinese culture during the famous Ming Dynasty. This makes visiting China a unique experience, something that you will never really grasp until you see it for yourself. I don’t mean of course that people are still dressed in long Chinese dresses with funny hair-dos or live in wooden huts! Chinese streets are just like any modern European city with sky scrappers wide streets, very fancy cars (which was a real surprise to me!) and impeccable traffic system that made Beijing traffic one of the most organized and smooth traffics in the world despite being famous for being the most crowded of all!
What I mean by different experience is to get to know people first hand, there customs and traditions, and most of all the way they see themselves and the world.. To open your mind to see how close we all are from each other, and yet how drastically different we can be sometimes..
Speaking of different, I must say something about food! Yes I saw weird things, and yes I tried all I saw including chicken legs and… worms… Yes I have! Oh come on! don’t be judgmental! It tastes really good by the way! Haven’t had the chance to try anything else but I’m not sure I would have liked to try crickets for example.. I have to draw the line somewhere!
No American movie or news piece will replace the real experience, not in China nor elsewhere for that matter, you have to try the thing on your own to get to form your own opinion about such a different place. You might like what you see and you might not, no tow people will agree on anything, but they will appreciate the experience and respect it, but only if they do keep the “open eyes, open mind” spirit that I talked about before.
Now it is safe to say that I did not like everything I saw in China, but I do respect it. I journaled about my trip in details in my private journal for my eyes only, mostly about my daily life details and some reflections that I really don’t need to share. However few thoughts come to mind that I think are relevant to this blog’s theme and deserve to be a lesson learned from this trip.
What I took away from this experience after 21 days of living in a different place, different style, with different people, cut off from everything and everyone I know, and away from my daily details.. It gives you time to clear your mind and see things from a different perspective, a new eye, which is different from living in a relativity “known” or “expected” place..
When I came back I found myself looking at my life from a different angle. From “away” if I may say. I did not like what I saw.
Before I left to China I thought I was doing well but in fact, despite the changes I introduced to my life, they are not ‘tangible’. They are significant changes since I have been changing my mindset and my surroundings in some sort, but I am way too far from even starting the real path towards creating the life I want.
The concept itself.. “the life I want”.. is not as clear and defined as I thought it was… This is what happens when you immerse yourself into too much details and loose the big picture.. But being cut off the way I was in my trip gave me the chance to look at things all over again as if for the first time. I came back to look at my stuff and my papers and plans as if they where not mine!
This is not just the effect of China, but also the effect of the great company I had.. Chinese people and other people from various Arab countries, we all have different lives and live under different conditions… These awesome people made me re-think my life… I saw people living in the occupied Palestine who knew exactly what they want from their lives and they are going after it, as for me I live in a free country, I have all I need and all the potential for everything I might want, but I have no idea still what the life I want looks like. Makes you think.. Right?
I have to say things are not that dramatic. The main idea I took from looking back at my life and reflecting upon it is that I need to make a more ‘tangible’ progress, to feel the progress around me not just in my mind. And I also need a clearer view of what I want as it is not yet as clear as I thought.
“My goal is to create a life that I don’t need a vacation from”.. A life that I really miss and appreciate when I’m a way.. A life I am proud to live. I know this is what we all feel and we all seek.. I have some hazy vision about it but it gets clearer everyday, I just need to make more effort, and I will eventually get there.
This has not been the usual “travel post” you would expect, has it? I haven’t even posted any pictures! But then again the most important thing about travel is not what you see in front of your eyes but what you take away from the experience.
I know the same experience will not repeat again, because it is not just about the place but also about the company. You can repeat the trip, or the place.. But the unique compilation of place, circumstances, and people that all got together in this specific moment of time will not repeat again. So if I ever go back to China it will not be the same China I experienced this time, however I know I will always enjoy it.
Thank you China. I will miss you but I will see you again someday. We are still not done yet you and I..