Stranger in a Strange Land, Guilin

Guilin, China
Guilin, China

I arrived in Guilin, China late last evening and enjoyed my first full day here today. Tomorrow begins my study in Mandarin and Taiji, which I’m looking forward to immensely. As a part of my largely mundane reacquaintance with the city, I decided to get a massage. The 16+ hours on planes yesterday left quite an impression on my shoulders and back.

For roughly $12, I was treated to a massage unlike any other I’ve had. Not necessarily forceful, it was incredibly direct and¬†intent on correction rather than providing me relaxation. I was thankful. During the hourlong session, I repeatedly informed my sore spots that the therapist was there to help, and that it could trust that the momentary pain was sent with love to alleviate the underlying tension. It reluctantly listened and relaxed.

At the conclusion, I heard distinctly “Thank you. Your body trusts you again.”

This was wonderful news, and I left feeling refreshed and loose in ways I haven’t in months. My shoulders were resting back, my neck erect and my calves spring-loaded. This is a modality I must learn.

Later this evening, I left my room in search of baozi for dinner, and was immediately struck by how wonderful my entire body felt. I was aware of every inch of it, and it sang as it moved. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was in full faculty of the machine I drove rather than enduring it as an ill fitting anchor. I nestled into the feeling, allowed my consciousness to retreat some and enjoyed the view as my body walked me for roughly a mile down a busy, wildly lit main strip of Guilin. This was one of those moments of bliss, a far-too-rare divinely gifted happiness, ease and peace. This was the reason I do “the work.”

After a minute or an hour, I realized that I’d grinned and walked roughly three city blocks past my destination. I stopped at a crosswalk and stood there, smiling and content. I was the experience experiencing life on Earth in a body rather than as a body.

“Why don’t you share the experience?” I heard.

Well, of course, why should’t I? I silently invited in any who should care to share the love. And, of course, I was joined. I immediately felt my heart open and my eyes grow wider. I was no longer alone in my body, staring at the passing scooters and the neon colored signage in a language I don’t yet read. I was full of life, full of wonder, full of gratitude and willingly, knowingly, sharing my experience as a stranger in a strange land with stranger strangers yet.

Realizing that I’d now missed the light and would have to wait another cycle, I chuckled to myself as I waited for it to again turn green. As it did, the moment receded and I watched my body walk toward home, smiling. I never did get the baozi, but I did score some Chinese Oreos.