Readers’ Blog

A Magic Time

Popularity 9Viewed 3718 times 2014-4-26 01:01 |Personal category:experience|System category:Life| remember, teachers, beauty, magic, time

I think that most of us have something what could be called a magic time. A magic time is a period in your past which you remember from time to time very vividly with a sense of beauty and appreciation of all what happened during that magic time. For me one of this kind of time was during my three visits to United States. I lived in a small University town - Columbia in the State of Missouri. My last place was in so called University Terrace - a group of about twenty to thirty, two floor height, houses for mostly students and their families. That whole Terrace territory was inside of a not so little forest park. You could often see squirrels around, a few times I saw a few deer wandering not far away from the living houses. Once very late in the evening I even met a raccoon. He was so cute, standing on his two legs behind a tree, a watching me as I was walking by. He looked like a little alien being, or a gnome, who appeared conscious and intelligent. 

During that magic time I remember not only the nature that was around, animals who could be seen often, or an owl who would hoot late in the evening, but I also remember all amazing people that I got to know there. I miss a lot of them, and from time to time remember our talks or gatherings together. I also remember myself working as a delivery guy for a Chinese food restaurant. It was a special experience to drive around the city with your own car and deliver Chinese food to all those non-Chinese Americans. Often those little encounters when a door opens and you pass a bag of meal, take some tips, would become into a little conversation. And conversation may have turned out into a little new world with its own emotions, thoughts and feelings. I miss that magic time, but I miss it in a joyous way. I know that at then, it may have not looked that magic as it looks now, because life is full of little problems and issues, but now it does like certain magic. The worries have passed a way, and the beauty of experience has remained.

Another magic time for me for was my first four months in China, then it turned into two years, and then even into a longer time period. I focus on those four months, because magic time usually can not last forever. It needs a break from time to time. During those four months in China, particularly Nanjing, I didn't see many squirrels running around. Neither did I see slowly walking deer, sneakily observing me racoons or owls hooting in the evening. There was also not so much of the forest around. But nevertheless the experience was not less magic as it was later in Missouri State. People say that you can't find nowadays mystery or ancient wisdom in China. Most of young people even haven't read "Analects" of Confucius. But I did find and could feel bits of that mystery in my daily life, especially in the beginning, while I was that unspoiled fresh foreign student, hungry for learning Chinese language and getting to now better Chinese people.

On my first train trip from Beijing to Nanjing, where I had to sit for 18 hours during night and didn't have a chance to sleep, I had quite a few interesting conversations with passengers. A lot of them didn't hide their interest in me, and even finding out that I didn't speak much of Chinese they still did try to communicate with me in other ways. There was one youngster who knew English, so eventually he started to talk with me more and interpret for others. I always remember a father who was traveling with his daughter through the night, but the whole time he had this naturally happy smile, and didn't show any signs of tiredness, in spite of the fact that he was not even sitting, but standing most of the time. The guy who spoke English also admonished me later that if I wanted to experience China how it was before, I should get up early in the morning and go to the parks. I am so grateful to him for that advice.

Soon after arriving, after a few days, around 5 o'clock in the morning or a bit later, I actually walked to a closest park in Gulou. I was pleasantly surprised to meet an old guy dressed in black martial clothes and practicing some kind of kungfu with a long stick. When you see these kind of morning events, especially if you haven't seen that before, it does look amazing and quite surprising. It does rise in you respect for the people and a wish to practice something similar. What is also special about the China mornings, that from 4:30 till about 7:00 am, everything is so different. The sounds, the rhythm, even how people behave and walk, all of that even remotely does not remind the busy life during the day. And it does feel quite strongly as if you go back into ancient times. If you haven't got up early in the morning and walked to a park, you don't know China, even if you stayed here for a few years.

Every day was a new experience, a new word learned, a new idea discovered. Every person was also a new opportunity, a new chance into something that was unknown. How often a simple hello or "ni hao" in a street eventually would turn into a longer talk, a more intensive exchange of smiles and gestures of friendliness. How could one not call that a magic time? Not mentioning that what I wrote here are just little crumbles of all the things and events that happened.

However, to put some salt into the magic, there was a time when suddenly a lot of charm at least temporarily disappeared. And for me that was after about 4 months of stay here. One day, the good positive mood that was accompanying me most of the time, suddenly had gone. From nowhere I started having these pessimistic thoughts. I realized that initially it seemed that I would make a lot of interesting Chinese friends, that would lead me into some kind of deeper understanding of Chinese culture and things around. But at that time I found that it only seemed that it was so easy to make friends with Chinese. When you look around yourself and count, you find out that you haven't made even one real friend, and that you are still a foreigner who does not understand well enough what is going around. And that you are not accepted as one among the many. You are not a Chinese after all. These thoughts were only part of my pessimism, some pessimistic moods come suddenly without being asked, without giving you a cause for their visit. I thought, maybe all that positiveness up till then was just a dream, just my imagination, inability to see what was real?

Fortunately, the pessimism was just a matter of a few hours, or days, and things did went back to their brighter side. While I was in Lithuania, I came with this explanation once, that our life is like a spiral. Sometimes we walk on one circle of that spiral, and we meet only certain people, only certain kind of events happen to us, only certain experiences and moods visit us. But at some turning point, when we start a new circle of that spiral, we start meeting completely different and new people, new kind of events start happening to us, new ideas also begin coming into our minds and hearts. At that turning point you may find that in the same house, next door to you, lived someone whom you never met before, but who eventually became your friend or a teacher. Your potential friend or even a teacher of life can live for many years in close physical proximity from you, and you would never know until the time comes. Until you start making the right circle of your life spiral. Sometimes to start that circle you need to discover something, or to get rid of some old habit or shortcoming. 

The same in China, everything is in spirals. You stay one day, you see it one way. Two months - a big difference. Two years - and a lot of incredible things may happen, that you even could not imagine if you left her - China - in just a year. One needs time to dig deeper. Well can't be dug by jumping from one place into another. One needs to focus in one direction with one's whole strength, that is how the water under the grounds is being reached. Let's not be jumpers, let's go deeper. And thanks a lot to someone who pointed this to me long ago.

After 5 months of my studies of Chinese language, my leaving time was approaching. I had a ticket back to Lithuania, my government's scholarship was about to end. I didn't have any work or additional income. And my parents were not in position to support me either. I was going into a depression. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to leave China after mere 5 months of studies. What can you learn in such short amount of time? I really wanted to stay longer, but I had no rational idea how to make it happen. No more scholarship, no income for tuition fee, no work. And if I somehow stayed longer I had no place to live, because the University's dormitory would start charging me 900 RMB per month. A situation without a way out, that is how it seemed.

However, by that time, I had a strong believe, that what has to happen would happen, and you can't walk away from what is predestined. Still, often some conscious participation is needed for predestined to actually happen. We participate in our destiny. I knew that the wise thing to do is to gather my dissipated will and to stop worry and feel depressed. But instead to calm down, to become quiet, and listen for an answer that comes from within. At first, for a few days in a row I would just stay in my dorm feeling depressed about my inevitable leave. At some point later, a clear thought came about calming down and listening for a solution from within. I followed the thought, and instead of continuing to be passive, did manage to calm down and focus within. And soon after I acquired that quietness, I did see a solution. It was suddenly clear that there is one person who might help me. I just need to go and see her.

Then I actually did go and see the person who I felt could somehow help me. And it was indeed the right person. She immediately told me that she had an idea to try, and her idea worked out well. As I see now, if I went to a wrong person I may have ended up going back on my plane to Lithuania. An unexpected help came, first from within, and then from outside. Gradually, step by step, I got a solution on how to stay longer, and to continue my studies, as well as living in China.

Mission impossible was accomplished. A new circle of a spiral had started. And the magic time had been continued. Remember your own magic time and cherish it, it might be your source of strength in a difficult moment of your life.

A friendly smile on my first train trip from Beijing to Nanjing in 2001 August:


Two cute kids with their grandma, they have accompanied me most of the trip:


The father who could stand most of the time during the night in the train and stay in a good mood (believe me it was so tiring not to sleep through the night even if you were sitting):


My diligent volunteer Chinese-English interpreter:


Me with some Chinese salesmen during my first week in Nanjing, on a road which turned out to be our main path from dorm to the classes. I didn't agree to buy anything from what they were selling, but it didn't affect their mood or friendliness. At that time I still didn't mind people taking pictures with me:



(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

Flowers

Shake hands

Ray
Like 1 Share
8.03K

Report

Comment Comment (39 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-4-26 15:32
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it to  the homepage.
Reply Report 财神 2014-4-26 15:37
Lack of time i just read the photos right now.  
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 16:39
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it to  the homepage.
Thank you as usual!
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 16:40
财神: Lack of time i just read the photos right now.   
Usually a movie based on a book is not the same as the book.  
Reply Report Maierwei 2014-4-26 17:04
I'm sad that you didn't see any squirrels in Nanjing. Here we have many on our campus! It seems they never graduate.

It's impossible not to wonder what "right" solution your friend has recommended you! But I got another lesson from your post, about not being a "jumper" but going deep. I guess I'm scared of wells, I'm such a jumper. Once I'm good at something I can't dwell on it anymore, and I jump somewhere else. Broadness is more welcoming, open and enjoyable whereas depth is mysterious and dark and risky. A river has some depth as well, and isn't as scary as a well. But I'm not saying what I think is the truth, focus and vertical building is very important in the academy for example. And my rivers have me floating instead of reaching a career destination it seems  
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 17:14
It's wonderful you have squirrels in some Chinese university!

The solution was quite simple and daily. She just happened to know a Chinese family who were looking for a foreigner to live together and help their kid to learn English. They didn't want to charge anything, just wanted some English language help. That was the first very important step. We could say it was not a big deal, but at that time families who wanted to accept you were not such an often case, at least I didn't know. You had to find them somehow. And she was that right person who knew such a family. Later other things followed, but having a place where to live and eat, and not worry for an income, gave me more time to find out how to deal with other things like tuition fee in university.

What is important that the Chinese family I was introduced really took me as a family member. And I received tremendous amount of support and care without asking. It was also a new window into a Chinese world. In terms of language learning, there is nothing better than having someone who talks to you in Chinese for hours and days, and has a patience to repeat and explain. Because of these and other consequences the whole "right solution" or advice became even more significant.

I have been a jumper too, and probably still am. Like a lot of people are. Simply understood, not being a jumper, it is just an ability to follow an idea for the time that is long enough to reach that idea or fulfill in life. Usually we don't have that kind of determination. This idea of not being a "jumper" also leads to some further discussion, but it is enough for the comment.

Thanks for the feedback!
Reply Report SEARU 2014-4-26 17:55
It  is  magic  that  you  could  tell  the  stories  in  such  details .   I  think  this  is  a  good  writing  skill  that  needs  me  to  learn  and  master .
This  time ,         I  ALSO  think  you  could  put  my  comment  into  Chinese  by  yourself !

( Your  text  is  a  wonderful  movie ! )
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-26 19:46
juliuy: Usually a movie based on a book is not the same as the book.   
Cai-Shen is into Pictures painting thousands of words right now ..    he'll get caught up!   
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-4-26 20:29
So whats everyone elses magic time?

Mines is, Glasgow 4 years ago, for about 2 years I danced salsa every night in the salsa clubs...was truly amazing, some of the best days ever. I remember just ignoring my accountancy course simply to think about where I was going, going over everything I learned while sitting in my management lectures etc and then dancing for the next 6 hours of the evening.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-26 21:27
Ok, I found the time to read it all - Everton losing 2-0 at Southampton at half time in the early live TV game in Sanlitun. So I gave up 15 minutes of the 2nd half of the match to thoroughly read your post. It is still 2-0! Such interesting experiences and you have a nice, positive outlook on life. Coincidently my first ongoing stay in China, after 5 years of periodic visits, only a few months at a time, was in Nanjing nearly two years continuously. I had a Nanjing life is great, Nanjing life now not so great, experience myself after 6 months. Small world! But I survived!
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 21:39
ColinSpeakman: Ok, I found the time to read it all - Everton losing 2-0 at Southampton at half time in the early live TV game in Sanlitun. So I gave up 15 minutes of ...
Oh... I start feeling guilty about the length of my posts. I appreciate that you read it, but it sounds more like a voluntary obligation. You didn't have to do it! I was writing it for myself  
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 21:42
seanboyce88: So whats everyone elses magic time?

Mines is, Glasgow 4 years ago, for about 2 years I danced salsa every night in the salsa clubs...was truly amazi ...
Now magic time is going to become a some kind of cliche... Do you also remember a lot of things vividly from those times in Glasgow? Do you see it as some kind of "perfect time"?
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 21:44
ColinSpeakman: Cai-Shen is into Pictures painting thousands of words right now ..    he'll get caught up!   
There were three hints that the post was too long! Good I put some photos. Actually, I haven't really showed those photos to a lot of people up till now. There are here online for the first time. I think it is obvious from the photos that Chinese people appear quite friendly and nice, those who communicated with me. They don't look at me like at an alien.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-26 21:46
juliuy: Oh... I start feeling guilty about the length of my posts. I appreciate that you read it, but it sounds more like a voluntary obligation. You didn't h ...
The blog is a broad church in terms of lengths of posts. Personally I have tried to follow one of three options depending.. Keep a words only blog to a few paragraphs. If written on iPad it often needs to be one para or goes funny!  Go longer if can be illustrated by pics . Needs laptop for me to do that. Write about a bigger topic but link to other stuff I have written and give choice if readers want to delve more. I just think sometimes an interesting post if looking long, we postpone reading till later and then later never comes!  It varies. All welcome I think,   
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 21:48
SEARU: It  is  magic  that  you  could  tell  the  stories  in  such  details .   I  think  this  is  a  good  writing  skill  that  needs  me  to  learn  an ...
Thank you for the confirmation. However, I do feel very insecure about my writings here. And I don't have that skill, I am just learning to express some of my thoughts and impressions. I decided to try to do that in spite of my inner strong resistance to speak or write in public.

I am not very good director of "movies", I rather think you have very good imagination that helps you to make written letters alive and turn them into moving pictures.
Reply Report juliuy 2014-4-26 21:52
ColinSpeakman: The blog is a broad church in terms of lengths of posts. Personally I have tried to follow one of three options depending.. Keep a words only blog to  ...
I see what you mean. Thank you! I am still at level one. I don't feel like I have to much control over what I write. Only to some extent I do. It seems that texts has its own control over me.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2014-4-27 00:05
juliuy: Now magic time is going to become a some kind of cliche... Do you also remember a lot of things vividly from those times in Glasgow? Do you see it as  ...
It's like, when I understood what I wanted from life and started doing it I suppose. For me it was when I realised that getting the office job wasn't the be all and end all.

I wouldn't say perfect, but then nothing is. But as close to perfect as you can get
Reply Report Azindoo 2014-4-27 00:52
Great sharing your experiences
Reply Report teamkrejados 2014-4-27 11:20
Beautiful! "At that time I still didn't mind people taking pictures with me": do you mind now?
Reply Report Maierwei 2014-4-27 20:20
seanboyce88: So whats everyone elses magic time?

Mines is, Glasgow 4 years ago, for about 2 years I danced salsa every night in the salsa clubs...was truly amazi ...
Hey wait, white guys are not supposed to be dancing!!!!!  

About my "magic time", I guess for me they are quite short but a lot. I feel almost overwhelmed by sublime magic when I'm in nature, close to the sea or in green... As a child, I remember trying to stare at beautiful islands, trees and sea as long as possible so that I carve the scenery to my mind :) Also when I saw a rabbit, horse, squirrel the first time, or playing with my dog...Magic times!

facelist doodle Doodle board

You need to login to comment Login | register


Album

Recent comments

  • Dreams - Signs of Reality 2014-5-10 07:33

    juliuy: Thanks for the comment! It is not only our brains, hearts also do a lot during the sleep.

    I used to fly and visit some people through the windows in  ...
    "body is afraid of the spirit" will get me thinking for days!

    I didn't know it's bad to go through winows, sounds interesting. I always used the door- slipped in when I see it open ^^

    And when I change places, I can't be sure where I am when I wake up, similar to your experience but doesn't necessarily mean I think of the previous place fondly. After coming back to China, several times I had dreams that I was still back in the house I stayed in Korea, and when I woke up it took me some time to notice that I came back ^^

  • Dreams - Signs of Reality 2014-5-9 23:23

    Maierwei: Sleep is a speed recovery for the body, so of course it has a meaning! But our brains are still unsolved and nobody knows what exactly happens while o ...
    Thanks for the comment! It is not only our brains, hearts also do a lot during the sleep.

    I used to fly and visit some people through the windows in my dreams. Until I was told it is not good to go through the windows in your dreams. It is a bad sign or something like that.

    Somewhere it was said that body is afraid of the spirit. Sometimes we are scared of what is real  

Star blogger

Anming

4124

views

Maierwei

2603

views

财神

4580

views

Most commented

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.