礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – The Gift of a Myriad of Little Things

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I was standing at the bus stop, in our village on the outskirts of Beijing.

It is more like the place where the bus stops, than a bus stop.

A rectangular sign with a big green ’35’ and service times in small print on a reddish-brown post, planted next to the road.

Behind me a house.

A little to the left a shop.

In front of it an old snooker table.

The proprietor’s wife washing vegetables, she just picked from rusty buckets next to it, on the old green felt.

Birds gave us music as they twittered in the tall green trees.

It was early.

Well, early-ish.

06h30.

The bus arriving any time between 06h30 and 06h50, depending on how many people wanted to make their way from the countryside to the nearest city.

The moment was beautiful.

The old man, who must’ve suffered a stroke, scurrying by, his left leg dragging, as he made his customary morning walk.

Greeting friendly,  as always.

Lifting his right hand slightly, with effort, in that universal gesture of peace.

At first I was the only one waiting for the bus.

Eventually others joined me.

A young girl in her school uniform.

A man, smartly dressed, perhaps on his way to work as well.

A grandmother with her grandson and a bag filled to the brim with snacks and drinks for their journey.

It was a quiet moment.

My body breathing the cool morning air.

My soul sipping from the atmosphere.

A gift.

A tiny little gift.

To be standing here.

Enjoying the rhythm of this place.

The movement.

The sounds.

The aroma.

The peaceful resignated energy.

My heart putting her arms around the idea that my days are filled with a thousand little gifts, every day; gifts which I often unwrap without even noticing them.

Waking up.

That first moment.

Opening my eyes.

A new day.

Listening to the silence of what is our home in this present time.

Smelling the ground coffee as I pour water from the kettle.

Walking past the pond where someone is already trying to entice a fish into breakfast.

Sitting next to a complete stranger on the subway.

Striking up a conversation.

Learning something new.

Watching the man, in the small cubicle, behind the waist high counter, as he magically creates the most delicious ChouMieyen, shaking the frying pan with ease, flicking sauces and spices onto the mushrooms and cabage and noodles, stirring it lightly, then more vigorously,  before carefully dishing it into the little round box from which I will nourish my body.

Walking through the Hutong,  on my way to the lake where centuries ago a temple stood.

Eating the fried noodles, while children run past and the water softly touch the banks.

Being embraced by a little student as class begins.

Putting her tiny Chinese arms around my neck, as she says good morning,  then scratching in her bag to pull out a crumpled drawing.  A man on a podium, a caravan next to him.  A girl giving the man a prize.  Lots and lots of little Chinese Characters saying that she loves me and that I a  the best teacher she ever had.

Seeing the little boy, who I was told is a real trouble-maker, flourish, as suddenly English has meaning, just because he doesn’t have to sit in one chair for 80 minutes but can roa  the classroom from front to back, while foreign letters, which used to be uncomfortable in his mouth flick past on the electronic screen, creating words and sounds and sentences, which now have meaning.

Getting lost in another’s words, almost missing my transfer station on the way home, as I drink the ideas of a man who lived before books were sold in shops or as code for devices.

Sitting down to eat with friends.

At a large round table.

Many dishes appearing one after the other.

Each one new.

Discovering who people are.

Crossing the divide of culture and language.

Being together, in happy acceptance,  enough.

Cycling through the forest.

Choosing a beautiful piece of red meat at the market as music competes with anouncements and pedestrians push by to get fresh produce.

Lighting a fire, cooking dinner outside.

Being together with my Tribe.

Spectating,  as they laugh and tlk and discuss and engage.

Seeing our little girl rush down the stairs to meet me, late in the evening,  as I arrive home from the heart of the city.

Feeding on her happiness to see me.

A little while later, falling asleep on my lap, terribly tired, her little body limp in my arms, her being at rest against me.

Touching my Zuko.

Feeling the energy between us, not dissipated through two decades of life, but energised, bolstered by everything we’ve shared and endured and experienced and lost and gained and lost again in twenty years.

Pushing the two-wheeled square wheel-barrow, loaded with the week’s garbage to the disposal site, in the shade of more trees, everyone I pass waving with the words ‘ladzito’ (garbage), responding with a simple ‘dwe’ (yes), aware that even this interaction is beautiful,  kind, as we share geography for a fleeting time.

Playing, alongside my daughters, with two little blind boys, to help them learn English, before they head off to meet their adoptive families in a country they’ve only heard of.  Seeing them, my daughters, lavish love and kindness, just because they are.

As I wait for another vendor to make the tastiest ‘Dzen Bing’, a pancake of sorts with egg and chives and crepes and beef, I look at the days we have.

Days strewn with little gifts, in every nook and cranny.

Exquisite gifts.

Tiny gifts, easily missed.

If we become obsessed with all we want or do not have, or even with tremendous gifts we seek, like happiness framed by love and peace.

Perhaps along The Way of the Gift, I am discovering that all the Gift is fused together.

One.

Dispensed and given from moment to moment.

Unfragmented.

Each little bit a part of the immense entirety, which fills our existence.

Even the moment of dissapointment,  woven into it, gift as well.

For everything we receive, we receive from our Origin and Source.

And all of it is good.

And so, as bus 35 arrives, and I wait for the grandmother and her grandson to embark, before I get on too, my heart resolves to enjoy the little things.

Gifted to me all day long.

To see them.

Taste them intentionally.

Savour them.

The bitter-tasting gifts, always in-between, a little more palatable,  amongst the myriad of little things which make my life so fabulous.

A cool shade of gratitude engulfing me, as I find my way into another day.

A hope alive, that you too, as I write these words, might see.

The myriad of little gifts sprinkled into every moment.

For they are everywhere.

To be unwrapped and enjoyed.

To fill your existence with meaning and happiness.

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