People have warned us how gorgeous Gannan is and we could now verify their friendly caveat. We were extra lucky to have avoided the tourist spots of yurt rooms lining up both sides of the main road. Jason looked for a side road that led us to an area that only had a few local picnickers and the head “honcho” charged us 10rmb for pitching a tent for the night. We were the only “outsiders.” If you have experienced the horrors of budget hotels in China, it is often a relief to go camping especially if you discover land that recalls heaven.
This is the first time I went camping without a big group. In the Philippines, I was a member of a mountaineering club and we always climbed mountains in groups of 20 to 60 and even more. In China, my husband has an outdoor club and the trekkers numbered 20 to 40 at a time. I never camped with an intimate group before but this time, it was just Jason, Joshua, Jimmy and me. I finally was able to do what I’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity.
In the numerous times I’ve climbed, there were always social activities at night –partying, dancing around a great bonfire, trading stories, drinking and singing. I would look up at the stars standing up in a brief solitary moment but now, I could at last, lay down on a mat and simply stare at the milky way above as long as I wanted or as long as the kids would allow me, which is more than enough. Before, the tent was just a place to sleep in after boisterous merry-making but now, it’s porch was my church of contemplation.
Waking up the next morning was even better. I was the lone early riser and I had paradise all to myself for over a precious hour.
This picture taken from our campsite is a lot like life. You can’t have one without the other. Shit makes the flowers grow. Imagine the crap people say to you and the flowers represent how you would ideally like to react to it. Now, what if what you say to others is also a load of bollocks to them but they respond to it with the grace of flowers? Carry this metaphor further, if both sides retaliate with more crap then it escalates into world wars, family feuds, divorce, infinite grudges and unmitigated bitterness.
Now visualize all the crap you’ve taken, swallowed and choked on throughout your life and how it has made you stronger and molded you into the person you are now. People who have attained a level of mastery have an automatic switch which converts shit into flowers. There’s a saying about how praise and criticism are cut from the same cloth and you have to let both slide off you like water off water-proof material. When you think at the level of sub-atomic particles, shit is no different from flowers.