D.H. Lawrence wrote: when we travel, cool, unlying life will rush in.
Travel in China forces you to leave all your possessions behind, keeps you struggling for balance, forces you to trust strangers again, confront other ways of life and religious beliefs, as well as food, customs, toilets, exchange rates, and the only thing you recognize are the eternal things—the moon, the sky, the sea, breath, the flow of life, but if you roll with it, you may feel what Anatole France called “the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.”
Traveling is in our blood. The earth was never flat and travelers always knew it. They also knew that to be lost is to be on the road to being found. We never remember the malls and the movies and the comforts we’ve had, we remember the lost and lonely and crowded places that called to us, called to us by name, like when we stand at the edge of the ocean, all that roaring water summoning us, speaking a language we once knew, beckoning us back into who we always were but don’t remember.
Traveling reminds us. Traveling plugs us back in. Traveling reinforces connection. Traveling brings us back home.
And so I’d like to share the top 13 things I’ve learned wandering in China.
1. As you move about, pretend you are a beach.
2. When in doubt, smile.
3. The best learned trait you can acquire is the ability to suspend judgment.
4. You will make more friends if you cock your head sideways and shrug with your palms open than you will by hiding behind a protective scowl.
5. When traveling repeat daily, “None of this belongs to me.”
6. Be inquisitive but respectful. Let them laugh at you and they will eventually laugh with you.
7. Slapstick humor works everywhere. If things get too tense, pretend to trip, everyone will laugh. Or open your map upside down and ask for directions. Then, pretend you cannot fold it back into its original configuration. The possibilities here are endless.
8. Learning and perfecting one magic trick will open numerous doors.
9. Relinquish control; allow yourself to be surprised.
10. Be more cordial than people expect.
11. When things are looking as though they are about to turn bad, imagine you are Bill Murray. Believe me, this works every time.
12. When someone is annoying you, turn into Borat. This also works every time.
13. Don't turn inward and stop talking just because no one understands you. Talk away, answer what you think might be their questions, smile and nod, or recite bad song lyrics. Trust me, they will talk back to you. There have been many times that I have carried on a nonsensical conversation that has left the participants as eager and excited as if a meaningful discussion had occurred. Barry Manilow lyrics seem to work best however the Eagles lyrics are a close second.
My favorite? “Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.”
I will fade out on some great travel quotes:
“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G. K. Chesterton
“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” – Ray Bradbury
Tags:Travel Expat Tales
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If you had enough wit to say that, how in the hell did you write stuff like "As you move about, pretend you are a beach." -What the hell is that? Pretend that Snooki is doing the nasty on you? -Worry about erosion? -Duck frisbees thrown by jocks? -State in horror at french canadians in speedos? Or dear God, what the hell is this " Relinquish control; allow yourself to be surprised." -So when somebody sits in your hard seat on the 18 hour train to Xi'an, just roll with it. Or when you find no taxi in Harbin will stop for you, just roll with it. Or when a school tries to sell you a letter of release for 5k just roll with it. -Dude, you can do better. You know it.
Jun 03, 2013 15:54 Report Abuse
My my, you've had a bad time here, haven't you. Maybe if you were more like a beach . . . Or maybe no one can reach up to the aerie you occupy in your own mind, self-importance lingers about your writing like smoke. I shouldn't have engaged you at all, it was my mistake, sorry . . . ok then, well I have to go now, my Lithium just kicked in.
Jun 03, 2013 20:16 Report Abuse