Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Doorway Had A Smile

Greetings from the land of tomorrow otherwise known as China...
As I think of those of you who will be reading this across the different timezones around the world, I am smiling and have gone through some of the images I have taken since the last time I posted. The upload time takes a while from my end, so in the end, I hope you receive the message I have decided to write with warm intentions.

China has had a very surprising impact on my life. One that goes beyond being a tourist in this nation. I live here. I work here. I have fallen in love with the people here. I have found a transformation that has been a positive one for me. One that put me in touch with what it means to have purpose in life. A purpose that started with a smile.

You should be amazed with these shots, because the Chinese shun the camera, specifically when a foreigner has one. All of these wonderful people opened their hearts to me as I set out on a new mission to touch one person a day. The first day, was just to go out and try to provoke a smile. I walked around feeling like my heart was going to explode with my efforts to smile at people. It was contagious. It felt like I was walking around with bottled joy.
The smile then led to contact. Helping people with a load, a bike hatch that wouldn't properly close, a reassuring touch or perhaps something a little more practical, as I would see a need. This opened invitations that would not have been there for me. The observation of a private lesson with a little girl, all because the music drew me. I was astonished to be invited in and allowed to hear the master and the student work together.A crepe maker thought I was funny, and allowed me to photograph her as well. Her outdoor stand was flush with her hard work and because I stood there and was willing to eat there more customers came who were of the paying sort.
The little things along the day that illustrated total joy. The total joy of just touching someone. We are indeed creatures of habit, so on my next journey I decided to be brave and go by myself into the heart of Nanjing. I just got on a bus and let it take me to a place where I just felt like getting off, and I walked from there. It was on this day I was shown the other side, the side that tourists don't see. The ones you find when you go through the side streets where the people of the city live.
I saw a man with mangled legs and a begging bowl. He was in obvious pain, but did his best to smile for me. I reached down to his level and grabbed his hand and pressed his palm not with coins, but with something more substantial. I thought he was going to cry and soothed him by stroking his arm and looked into his eyes. To really see the person as a person and not walk by in a vain rush.

I had a day where I went out and simply found people in need and gave. I set a budget and just looked to touch these people. A foreigner with blue eyes and a smile. When I came home I wept. Not because I couldn't help all of them, no, but because I realized something far more profound. How our fear keeps us from giving. I had written an earnest post on my blog about touching one life a day. So many missed the intention and only thought of their tight wallets. It wasn't about giving money. It was simply about giving without expectation. If we touched one life a day, within a year, you would have touched 365/6 people. A simple observation that made me look at it in an achievable way. I thought, don't even think about pay it forward. This is the kind of giving that is anything in a natural authentic way based on love extended to a total stranger to be free. That is real freedom. A smile is free. A hug. An acknowledgement of a homeless person, but oh, we are so so afraid of being asked to help. We are afraid of need and even more afraid of being needed. Don't misinterpret my message as trying to guilt you into doing anything. The number one mistake we all make is comparing our journeys to each other. We all have our own road. We have our own life lessons. There is no doing or not doing to even worry about.

So what place does this kind of post have here? Perhaps because this is a blog about giving. This is a blog about giving support to each other as we share our adventures. This is our little community and in a way I am just sharing with you my journey along the way and trying to take you with me.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am really not trying to tell you something you all don't really know for yourselves. What I am finally getting as well, is that in order to allow something or someone into your life, you have to make room for it to appear. For me, this journey began by clearing out my old life so I could have this life. Everything material gone. I am not doing any of this for religious or spiritual reasons. I don't believe in heaven or hell. There is nothing in it for me, except to grow. We all die. We take nothing with us. However, this is what we leave behind, a memory of love. In the palace of my mind, China has filled me with immense treasures I would never have found had I been too afraid to walk out the front door.

Life is magic right where you are. Feel it.
Blogger of: The Lotus Sutra Chronicles documenting my journey along the way. I keep it simple so readers feel comfortable and at home, after all, it is a blog about my myopic view of the world at times. Greetings to all those who are new posters here and a fond hello to those faithful posters that have been here from the inception of this haven.