It’s dark outside and cool. Breezy. Not what I expected for July 1st. But I’ll take it. I’m leaving at 5:50pm EST tomorrow for Beijing, China. A few days later, I’ll travel south to Wuhan, one of China’s “Furnace Cities.” I’ve been warned by several Chinese friends that it gets really hot in Wuhan. And it’s humid. And not every place has air conditioning. But my hotel does–I checked. For tonight, I’m enjoying the breezes outside my open window and trying to stay relaxed as I prepare for this trip. Five weeks. It will be the most time I’ll ever spend outside the US. I took an intensive Chinese class in the spring, but most of my Chinese is gone. We’ll see what happens.
I’m changing my blog. Writing about dreams has been the focus of this blog for a long time. I’ve been doing dream work at North of Eden for more than four years, and recently I decided to take a break. So, my blog is shifting from writing about dreams to writing about travels. One last dream, though, before I make the big leap. I dreamed this a few days ago: I am walking and a man is with me. I come upon a chair with a little Chinese boy sitting in it, folded over. I think he might be dead, but I touch him and he sits up slowly, awakening. I point to myself and say, “Meiguoren.” It means I am American. His thoughts come to me, and he says it means I am a person who walks the countryside under the stars. I touch his chest and say, “Zhonguoren.” It means he is Chinese. His thoughts come to me again, saying, “It is not so different, I am not so different than you.” He is my boy, and he is not so different than me. When I dreamed this, all of the anxiety I had been feeling about traveling to a place where people will look very different than I do, will think and speak very differently than I do, well, all of that anxiety melted away.
I’m going to China with an open heart and mind. One of many quotes attributed to Confucius is, “Where ever you go, go with all your heart.” That is what I plan to do. I recently attended a conference on Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, movements begun by Brazilians Paolo Freire and Augusto Boal. I met many amazing people this weekend. I feel so open to the world right now, to the very different lives others live in places both far from my home and near. I am open to their struggles, their joys, their ways of seeing the world. I hope to come back from my travels understanding something a little more about what it means to be a human on this planet.
Here is a song by Jimmy Wong called “Ching Chong.” It opened my eyes to what it can feel like to be Chinese-American. This song is a beautiful, intelligent response to a thoughtless, racist American. I’ve said some stupid stuff myself over the course of my life. Here’s hoping songs like this will help all of us figure out how to let go of the hatred and stereotyping and really see the others around us, not just who we think they are.