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Between Stability and Adventure


View A long way home on Porticaeli's travel map.

It can be hard to explain to people why I miss building things and breaking things down so much. Teaching is fun, and I love it, but the work never really ends. Maybe if you spend five years with the same students you can get them close to their goal, but you never really finish learning a language. There are still parts of English that I don’t know, law, science, medicine, but for the most part it is enough. I am not done learning, but it is enough.

When I build something, it is done. The wood is piled and ready to keep people warm for the winter. The garden wall is built and ready to be filled with plants. The chicken coop has been taken apart, broken down to something useable again. I am sore, dirty, smelly, and covered with what looks like spider bites, but I am done. Teaching doesn’t work like that. The semester is done, but the students still have so much to learn.
I was glad for a week of dirty work, where I can let my mind think deep thoughts as my body moves things around. Where every meal is earned, and rest is wonderful. Where I sleep easily because I am truly tired. It’s been a long time since I felt that way, and to do it in a place that is a paradise is so much better.

I was in Da Mai Di 大麦地 outside of Li Jiang丽江 in the south of China. I was high in the mountains, surrounded by trees and rivers, with sharp cliffs for climbing and tobacco fields woven throughout them. A quiet place where the stars were like an ocean above. Even more so than the desert outside Dunhuang. I spend a week working and reading, swimming in the river before the rains began, and a day remembering how much I loved river tracing. But always in the back of my mind was a question.

Why am I here? I could have just gone home. Or found a job in Chengdu right away. Something stable, something simple, something where I could build a life. Part of me wants that, but there is still so much of the world I haven’t seen yet. Part of me wants to never come back. To go to Japan and work in Kyoto or Osaka. To find a new place I have never been. I am in the middle of a fight, between stability and adventure.

There are more than enough reasons to come back, and I don’t think I am ready to completely leave yet. Lanzhou was not the best place for my health, but I think that Chengdu can be. Kungfu friends to keep me working out. A place far enough from the western world that I can’t eat all the tacos I want to. And there are people I still want to see. People I miss already.

In the long run, I don’t really know what I will do. The plan to stay in Chengdu is fine for the next couple years, but then, who knows. The world is still open to me, and I want to see all of it before I am too tired to go on. Before I find a place to stop and rest, and find I don’t really want to get up again. In a lot of ways, I wish I had started when I was younger, so I would have all that energy and time.

But that is not how my life worked out. I wasn’t ready then, and I am lucky that I am now. There is conflict, but that is part of finding balance. Balance for me is often the center of conflict, not a place of serenity. It is being pulled in two directions, and trying to find the line between. The trick, I think, is to find the joy in that conflict, the peace in the eye of the storm. For now, I chose adventure.

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Posted by Porticaeli 03:34 Archived in China Tagged travel china english photography lijiang american

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