After approximately 24 hours on planes (4 different flights) over the course of 2 and a half days, we have finally arrived in U-town, China. I would say that most of us in my travel group (including children) are experiencing the adrenaline rush of being in a completely unfamiliar place for the first time. The experience can be likened to the bonding that can take place between mother and child in the first hours after birth. It is a unique time when hormones are surging in just the right way. Even with jetlag we are all feeling something like this. We see this place like we never will again, with totally fresh eyes. And the view is amazing.
I have traveled in China before, but never to this region of the country, which is far, far west of Beijing. Here, we are steeped in You culture. The You are an ancient people and an unintentional minority here in China. And now we can see with our eyes, ears, and mouths the uniqueness of this culture. Everything looks bright and different, every new flavor is strong on the tongue. We are open and receptive in this particular window of time as every sensation is experienced and processed as different than anything we’ve seen, heard, smelled, or tasted before. In even just a few days, we will grow accustomed to parts of this place and our senses will quiet.
All the things that delight and disappoint us are things we couldn’t have predicted; a hot cup of tea when it’s 85 degrees, a successful transaction with a street vendor, a smile on my kids’ faces when eating a new treat–like lamb dumplings, deep-fried bread, or vegetables for breakfast. Even the disappointments feel like they have an upside; our windowless hotel room felt like a gift after I heard the story our local friend told of his attempts to find us housing.
Windows of time like this are worth noticing, because you don’t have to go to the other side of the globe to have them. In college student work, we have noticed that the first days of freshman year are something like this. I’ve already mentioned the time after a baby is born, and what about other transitions? Times when we see with sharper eye and more sensitive ears are a gift. Let’s notice them.
I look forward to hearing about your view.