Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pass Through The Fire!

I think I have mentioned that we live in an old folks home. Our first few months here, there were about four funerals! There was another one two days ago but the festivities continue. The body was paraded down the street followed by white robed friends and family. Then it was marched around in the middle of the street. The body was taken to the crematorium as they all are and the cover was burned. Then each person had to jump over a flaming pile of hay. Even the bags they carried and the poles from the bier had to pass through the flames. There were several men, perhaps the pallbearers that stepped through again and again. Cleansing? I don't know and I haven't found a local that can explain it yet. One told me that when she was married they walked through fire before entering the new home. It was to scare off wicked spirits and insure fertility. She had no clue what it did for the deceased. Did I mention the fireworks? Oh, can't forget those, they went off every ten steps and all through the night, for the past three nights! And again this morning! Clanging cymbals, ringing bells and banging drums must be sending the deceased off to Never-land because they haven't stopped either, even after midnight. People have been folding little silver pieces of paper for days, filling large garbage bags full. Today it's gold paper in the shape of little boats. They built a yellow paper boat about 6 feet long and burned that too. The yellow represents gold so they can be rich in the next life and the boat is for him to use later. If you can concentrate past the deafening noise and meditate on what these people go through, you may mixed emotions. They are so wrapped up in these customs, but when asked, cannot explain. Especially the younger ones. I watched as parents picked up their children and swung them through the flames. The kids have no clue, just following in the footsteps of tradition. And the suffering on the faces of the older ones pulls at your heart.




Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Wall!

Evidently, after a few years in China, many people hit what is affectionately (resentfully?) called "The Wall". If you can get past it, by jumping on mushrooms, accessing the secret passage or blowing it sky high, you win. Meaning, you can live here longer, and want to. I have hit the wall. I think I had a running start. I find it hard to think about continuing here. I understand that this is the best place for me now but what I want is to not be here. I don't yearn for home like I once did, anywhere else will do. That's what happens when you hit the wall. Everything irritates you. Frank is being understanding, he bought me roses yesterday. I have dicussed this problem with many people and I am not alone. Everyone else has managed to overcome this wall and they say I will too. Staying busy helps but you must have a day to yourself to just relax. If your apartment complex is as noisy as a circus complete with firecrackers, earplugs are a must and a loud fan at night provides white noise. Taking time to read encouraging, upbuilding things is also essential as well as talking about them with other people. This distracts you and is like steps up the side of your wall. I am trying all of it. One day soon, I will be on the other side helping someone else. For anyone contemplating moving abroad, this is a very real wall so you can prepare now for how you will tackle it. The fact that we simply CAN'T go home right now is actually a good thing because I have to face this, there is no other choice. Look out wall!

"Life is both simple and complicated at the same time. The trick is finding the simple truths that are hidden in the comflicted confusion." -Notebook Quotes