I’ve been home for almost two weeks now. As much as I miss China, it has been so good to reconnect with the spaces and people I missed while I was away.
But friends, I’m spending too much money. I need to start saving. Saving for adulthood.
But I keep thinking how else do I connect with people other than with food? Food is my favorite way to connect. Places like The Brew, Anna’s Bread, Constant Spring, Goshen Brewing Company are attractive to me because of the energy in them (and of course, the edibles). My conversations feed off of the different energies in each place. At Anna’s, I found myself feeding off of the quiet energy. I fed off of Mia’s calm, welcoming of my every thought, attentive energy. She encouraged me to remember the power of a situation and how it plays into how a person responds to those around her.
We are constantly feeding off of one another’s energies. Off of the spaces that we are present in. The smells. The lighting. The temperature of the air. How open or closed a space feels.
We also feed off of how connected we feel to those around us. Whether or not we feel they will understand our story. Whether or not they will think our joke is funny. If those we are with send the message that indicates they don’t want to be here with us, either by checking their phone constantly or a lack of eye contact. If we receive this message, our response is often holding back parts of our story. Or maybe we explain things in a more forced or rushed manner, instead of taking our time to articulate what it is we want to say.
The people I have felt most connected to are the ones who have given me the space to talk in circles. They accept me despite the fact that sometimes I can’t talk, or that it takes me time to fully articulate what it is I want to communicate. I am so grateful to those people who have allowed me to take time to breathe when I’m talking to them.
I have also found myself in spaces where the air is tense with questions of, “did I say that right?” “did that even make sense?” “what are they thinking?” or “I should say something now” “I should ask her a question now” This tension breeds insecurity. Instead of letting a conversation go as it goes, we often feel we need to stay in control. We fear periods of silence. We refrain from asking the other person clarifying questions, which gives them space to further articulate what maybe came out rushed or not as concise the first time.
Thus the reason I believe in the power of intentionality. When we take the time to think through why it is we respond the way we respond, and using those observations as tools to use as we continue to go about communicating in new spaces.
As Michael Puett writes in his book “The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About The Good Life” which examines the teachings of Chinese philosophers like Mencius and Confucius, “A deeply fulfilling conversation with a friend doesn’t just make you feel more connected; it makes you feel more alive. Whether you’re doing something physical, mental, or social, that glowing excitement and oneness with the world are the very same physical things. The Inward Training says that everything we experience comes from energies called qi and that the most ethereal of these energies–the ones that give us that exhilarated, alive feeling–are the energies of divinity” (pg. 125).
The Holy Spirit
The names for the divine, the power that connects us to one another and to the earth we live on. They all refer to the same power and being, right? None of us can say that the other is worshipping a different god, right? Yes, we have different names to call this divine power, but we all essentially believe in the same power, the same energy, right?
“As I walked through the square this morning I saw old folks playing badminton (better than I can) and square dancing. The place was buzzing with positive energy. As old as these people were, the place felt full of young life, of vibrant colors and smiles. These people are making the most of their time. Despite the aging bones and muscles in their bodies, they are making meaning. Connecting with one another through the beat of the music. So powerfully beautiful. I think I may need to retire in China.”
I wrote these words in the beautiful city of Langzhong where I spent 6 weeks in while studying abroad in China. I wrote these words as I was reading “The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About The Good Life.” This book introduced me to one of the many names for this divine power that I had previously named God or the Holy Spirit.
exists in everything
infinite gradations of it
rocks, mud, earth
a life giving force
body and mind
a vital essence
“With a stable mind at your core,
with the eyes and ears acute and clear,
And with the four limbs firm and fixed,
You can thereby make a lodging place for the vital essence” (pg. 137)
fully immersed in the world
music and poetry
“Nietzsche once wrote,
‘If our senses were fine enough,
we would perceive the slumbering cliff as a dancing chaos.’
We would see the heart of everything;
we would see all clearly.
Though he conceived of divinity
as a singular being with a will to power,
this statement hints at the understanding that spirit
can emerge from a different place.
There is a different way of being alive
and of impacting the world: through your
sheer clarity of vision and your connection
with everything; with your charisma
rather than through your domination” (pg. 137)
webs of connection
behaving flawlessly without falling into patterned responses
I think it is so easy for us to latch onto one concept or even one person and pour ourselves into them. By doing this I believe we lose ourselves and we miss out on the beauty of diversity. I believe we were meant to live a life of curiosity, always growing and never settling on one path or rule book to follow religiously. The Divine, qi, is continuing to reveal itself to us through our relationships and interactions with the world around us. We can cultivate this qi when we believe in its power and presence in our daily lives.
Puett writes, “Everything slowly becomes everything else in a cycle of endless change and transformation.”
I’m grateful for where I’ve been and the person I’m becoming and the people I am growing with.
With all that said, my hope and promise to myself is to continue to open my mind, heart and soul to the wide and deep time that is waiting for my creative hands, young feet and curious eyes to experience. That I would live each day with meaning and purpose. To live into the spaces I am present in with contagious authenticity, intentionality and passion. And when the time comes for me to leave this earth that I can look back on my life and take a long deep breath because I have lived life to the fullest, embracing every joy and challenge.