This month began with both a high and a low. We both finished and fluffed our forms, but we were both sick. What started out as sore throats and sniffles turn into a full blown flu and cold combination. We don’t usually catch things but the whole school was sick: Chinese and Foreigners. I was treating everybody along with myself. Kailin recovered faster than I. It took 3 weeks for my cough to leave. This put a major dent in our ability to train. We ended up fulltime training only about 6 days in May, but this down time did offer other gifts. It was actually timed well, as Master Guan, our head teacher, left for 2 weeks in Germany. It was his first time teaching abroad.
Kailin used this time to catch up on school work and I started writing what will hopefully be the first of several books. It is time. I can only see so many clients in a life time, so this will be my way of sharing with a bigger audience. Our friend, Krishna, has been a great help with this, as he has experience in publishing. Also our friend, Cort came to visit. He and Remy have an international company that does business between the US and China. I saw him in Thailand, and it was good to have a few days together again in China. He inspired us to go do several things again on the mountain, including the Care Free Valley walk. This time we walked down from Chong Tai. I love this walk. I believe it is my favorite natural experience on Wudang. He speaks Chinese, so doing anything with him is more interesting. We went to Golden Top again. This time we had our own heart lock engraved. We couldn’t have done this without Cort’s help. It is a tradition. People leave blessing for the earth and get blessing in return from the Gods. We left planetary peace and love.
We also mastered cooking in our rooms. Being sick limited trips downtown but school food when sick was not an option. There are many wonders on Wudang, but good food at our school is not one of them. If it wasn’t for the fruit, we would really have struggled to survive. In general the food is overcooked, too oily, too salty and has MSG. Digestive issues are constant for most. Kailin and I were lucky most of time. We have strong guts. The core problem is that hygiene, maintenance, and public safety are not really concept at any level in China. I suppose they will eventually get to it, but at the moment they are infants in these areas. They overcook everything to make it safe to eat. This said, the Chinese diet in general is better than the western diet. Junk food, dairy products and white flour based foods are consumed less. They also eat less and live far more active lives. Not to worry….their culture is rapidly accepting the western worlds short comings. Snacking is on the rise, Subway, McDonalds and other junk food chains are spreading like a plague, and it is the trend for young Chinese to move away to cities. There they take on sedentary jobs that required all the hours of their lives. Plus the Chinese have a long standing negative dance with alcohol and cigarettes. If they don’t balance these things their bid for world dominance many be cut short by disease. They might be able to heal with all their wonderful herbal knowledge, but the culture is moving away from those traditions too.
Even though this past month saw us hold up in our room resting and catching up on many things, we still maintained our own daily practices. We are getting really good at all our forms, though I’m sure another 20 years of practice will be necessary for mastery. All we have to do is watch the older students that have been at it for 8+ years, 9 hours a day to see what is possible with practice. Then on the rare occasions when Masters Guan performs with his 20 years of practice, our amateur standing is clear.
I must mention again how fantastic it is being here in the spring. These are mountains in a semi-rainforest climate, so spring bounces big. The smell of flowers is constant and ever changing. First, cherry blossoms then orange, then wild rose, and as the flowers bloom the butterflies and bees emerge. One day after a good rain, the sun came out and our hills were engulfed by butterflies….there were hundreds! Then there has been the blessing of Cina, the kitten Luca adopted. She has become friends with many, but especially with us. She got pregnant too young, as cats do on the mountain, and lost all the kittens. I helped her deliver and did my best, but in the end the babies just hadn’t developed right. I have helped Luca to get her fixed, not something often done here. We had to travel 2 hours to find an animal doctor and then the conditions were “very Chinese”. She is now fine and will have a wonderful life compared to most Chinese cats. One of my little gifts to life and all the students at the school….a great cat brings everyone more openness of heart. We will miss her and Luca.
Our last week, the first week of June, found us giving and receiving. We have received lots of help with filming and photography. We have been very lucky in having 3 great photographers on the mountain. Kailin needed new head shots for school and other shots to update her website. Plus we wanted some great shots of us together. Renato (Norway) did her head shots and several fashion shots. Michelle (USA) and Pascal (Switzerland) helped us with filming our forms and taking shots of us in our traditional whites. The pictures are fantastic. We are so thankful to them. Michelle is only 19. She and Kailin have become friends. It has been great for Kailin to have someone near her age to hang out with.
Kailin and I have a deep, loving bond that transcends time and space. She is a huge blessing in my life. We have been so blessed to have this time together. We have learned many things. We have both noticed while traveling and meeting people that proximity deepens relationship in a hurry. That travelers by need open their hearts with greater ease, and that once the heart is open a bond that transcend distance is created. Travelers are masters of letting go and then picking up a relationship where ever it left off when reunited. As we were leaving, Pascal said, “See you somewhere” and that says it all.
Today we travel by train for 20 hours to Beijing. We head out excited to see a bit more of China and happy to be starting our journey home. Our time at Wudang has ended but the ancient love of this place will live on in our hearts every day.