A Personal Farewell To China

The Great Wall of China at Badaling by exfordy

The Great Wall of China at Badaling by exfordy

It’s 3:35 AM Monday morning Beijing time, and I’m headed back home today.  This is going to be a loooong day.  The taxi will pick us up at 6:00 AM to take us to the airport for the first leg of our eighteen-hour flight back to Columbus.

We’ve been in Beijing for the last thirty-six hours.  We visited the Forbidden City and the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube Olympic stadiums Saturday, yesterday we took a day-long tour that included a Ming dynasty tomb and the Great Wall.  Met some great people, ate some great food.

Couldn’t really enjoy myself.

It pains me to admit that, but it’s the truth.  This last week in China has been a grind.  Instead of seizing the opportunity of travelling in a foreign land, I’ve been feeling run-down and unable to catch a good night’s sleep.

Yesterday it finally all caught up with me: I’m sick with a low-grade fever.  That’s why I’m up at this ridiculously early hour; I can’t sleep.

This has been a very different trip to China for me.  Each of the past trips was an adventure.  The sights that I saw were so different from my normal experiences, but the people were warm and friendly.  It was challenging and rewarding to travel in this amazing country.

This time has felt different.  I didn’t get to connect with most of the friends I’ve made in previous trips.  I rarely experienced the awe and wonder of discovery that I’ve felt in the past.  There has been a great deal of improvement in the hotels and roads in this country since the last time I visited – China feels gentler somehow – yet I found myself regularly annoyed at little inconveniences and disappointments.

And the more I tried to change my poor attitude, the more entrenched my feelings were.  It felt like time was running out, and I was squandering my opportunity.

Saturday morning I took time to journal in Shanghai, and the root cause of my issues was revealed: I believe this is my last trip to China.  I can’t make that claim with certainty, call it a matter of faith, but in the back of my mind, unspoken up until that point, I’ve viewed this as my final visit here.

And I realized that I needed this bad experience to allow me to let go of my attachment to this country.  My travels to China coincided with a period of profound personal growth, particularly in my faith walk.  I began prayer journalling during my first trip here.  The unfamiliarity of this place opened my heart and mind to different ways of thinking and feeling – it gave me a “beginner’s mind.”

Now that time has come to an end. 

So these last two days have been bittersweet.  I’ll miss the adventure of China, but I’m grateful I was given this understanding.  And I’m also excited knowing that every ending signals the beginning of something new.

Yesterday when we were returning from the Great Wall, I told my friend David about an experience I had on a previous trip to China.  I was travelling with my manager, and we were riding the Star Ferry on a beautiful Honk Kong morning.  An elderly local man dressed immaculately in a two-piece suit sat across from us and started a pleasant conversation.

There was something profound about this gentleman.  He spoke in a friendly, yet compelling way that captured our complete attention.  As we reached the end of the ten-minute ferry ride, he turned to me and said something that has stuck with me ever since:

“You will be very prosperous and live to a-hundred-and-five.”

“It felt like he was telling me the truth, like I could believe him.  Or maybe I just hope he’s right,” I said to David.

“Well, he got the first part right.  You certainly are prosperous,” David replied.

“Me?  Prosperous?  But I don’t have anything in my savings account.”

“Don’t mistake wealth as having a lot of money,” corrected my wise friend.

I’ve received an abundance from China, and I’m grateful for that.  A new phase of the journey is beginning just beyond today’s flight home.  The wealth I’ve received so far will be a benefit in that new phase.

It’s a matter of faith.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: