Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Journey of Emptying


– 孟浩然

(Streetview on Wu Kang Road)

The night after arriving in Shanghai took its break from a heavy rain. Phoenix trees (firmiana simplex, 梧桐树) along Xing Guo Road are washed brighter and greener, with rain drops filtering through leaves and lamplights rendered dim by its branches. Walking along this elegant road, one could indulge oneself into the dream of Shanghai in the late 19th century...

(In the garden of Xing Guo Hotel)

Many people in my career travel frequently. Their reputation and achievement take them within or across continents. But some of my friends told me that they don't have jet lag! How could it happen? My admiration! It's 6am,  and I already finished a yoga sequence and started jogging in the hotel garden. It's a vast garden surrounded by three roads, Xingguo, Hunan, and Jiangsu. Inside there are many hundred-years-old trees, including my favorite magnolia. In Georgetown's campus live also such magnolia trees, strong and offering a sense of reliability. In the Spring they contribute white showy grandifloras.


(bonsai outside of Villa No.2)

This short stay in Shanghai and an excursion nearby has quite a few zen moments. I have been deeply attracted so that I am engaged in idleness. The mind and all senses nourished by the green turn to be sharper. I realize that I start to notice things I would often ignore in the routine life of DC.


(View outside the hotel window, Village Meiling, Hangzhou)

There is a German word "Die Waldeinsamkeit" quite fitting here, that means the feeling of being alone in the woods. The word might seem scary or unsettling, but it is definitely a beautiful contemplation. The hotel located in Village Meiling is hidden among bamboo groves and tea gardens. There I found a total connection with nature, and a graceful solitude.


(Tea gardens under Lion Peak Mountain, Hangzhou)

During the daytime, I often take a solitary stroll through bamboo groves or along creeks in Jiuxi (九溪). The sunshine filtering through the leaves of trees remind me of a Japanese word "Komorebi." It's the interplay between the light and the leaves. Here I feel the peculiar sense of belonging.


(Jiuxi 九溪, Hangzhou)

I can smell the sunshine mixed with the fresh fragrance of tea leaves -- if you ever know that this area is the most famous green tea  field in China: Dragon Well (龙井). In combination with the water from Tiger Running Spring (虎跑泉), this makes the best green tea. Would you like to join me for a cup of freshness?


(Tea leaves just picked, Village Longjing)


(Last step in making green tea: drying)

Indulged in nature, I find my refined aesthetic sensibility even developed. In the Japanese language, there is a word "Wabi-sabi (侘寂)." Its spirit of the acceptance of transience and imperfection is what I have been pursuing these years.  Wabi-sabi resides in the inconspicuous and overlooked details, in the minor and the hidden, in the tentative and ephemeral. But in order to appreciate these qualities, emptying is at least for me extremely helpful. In life and work, we endeavor to gain, to achieve, to accumulate, and to add the glory in CV. However, isn't the curiosity on truth and the creation to uncover truth that brings us the most satisfaction? And extreme creation is always going to be balanced by extreme emptiness. It's the law of physics, conservation of energy.

I have been unloading myself in the short journey... I am ready to welcome possibilities out of the emptiness.



Photographed by Jennie Bai.
Copyright ©Jennie Bai. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Jenny Shaojun said...

That is a beautiful article, Jie! I feel the same when I am hiking here in Vancouver. If you go in a gloomy day, you will find not many people around, and you can lose yourself and feel relaxed in the woods. If you visit again, I will take you to the woods.