It was cold, so we decided to take a walk up the mountain. After all, I had been in that area for over seven years, and I had never been. So we searched, and after meandering our way through beautiful, and ugly houses, we finally found a path that looked like it led upwards. There was a man spilling water over something as they do, and we asked him, “zheli keyi shangqu ma?” “Keyi de, keyi de.” And so, we cut through the man’s yard without a care in the world, and started up the many stairs. Before we knew it, there was steam coming off our heads, and it felt like we were in some sort of a live game of Temple Run. Before we could even think about how tired we were, we were at the ancient altar to the Buddha. I then knelt and prayed. To what I wasn’t sure, but wasn’t it my former university professor from Shanghai who told me that it was okay to do that? He said no matter what I was praying for or who I was praying to, it’s okay as long as I did it in earnest. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing only that my knees felt good on this old and battered cushion that sat before the incense burning little metal pavilion. Then when I was done, I decided to yell. What are you doing man? Hey man, we’re in China, people yell in the mountains all of the time, it’s a good way to just let it all out. Two out of the three of us started to empty our lungs, Pavarotti-style, over the hills. Okay, maybe it was, more Cobain style, because the third one of us just shook his head with a silly grin on his face.
Have you ever noticed, when walking with a kid, you’re basically excused for anything? Like singing a song, or balancing on the curb? When you’re with a kid, almost anything is acceptable. On the same note, have you ever noticed people around here are almost pardoned from doing anything even when they’re not with a kid? People sing on the street, they have a run in their dress shoes, and they’ll even walk backwards while clapping their hands over their heads. That’s the beauty of living here, now isn’t it? I mean wasn’t it the other day I shaved my mustache into some strange handlebar shape for Halloween, and nobody even shot me an extra glance? Hell, I even saw a girl bicycling down the road dressed as Waldo, and she almost fit in. So this year, as the holiday approaches, do it as you would like to do it, sing Rudolph at the top of your lungs on top of a mountain for all I care, all I can ask is the you do it earnestly. Have a good one.
By Tim Hoerle