What Are You Packing?

Most people hate moving, whether it is to a new house, a new state or new country. I think it is not the sheer exhaustion of the actual move, I reckon it is going through your stuff and determining what goes in boxes, what gets packed. I’ve gone through the process of moving about 35 times in my life, most of which happened before I was 25. I’ve got to sift through my things and consider carefully what I want to bring along with me. The other day in the shower (best thinking happens there, right?!), I was pondering all these places that I have lived, not just the physical places but the places in my mind and its habits. The different versions of me. Not only do I pack these physical items, but the mental ones. too. I get to purge the worst in me and only bring that which I want to to take forward into my next experience. I think this is the best part of moving to a far distant place because you do not have a personal history to defend. No one knows a dang thing about you and who’ve you been and you can set the reset button if you wish.

I think about the people in my life who have lived in the same place for ages. Sometimes, their stability is seen with a sense of pride, but, to me, I wonder if it is not a prison. A while ago I came to understand why I had this opinion about the “stable” people I know when I heard  this Indian mystic named Sadharguru say,

I am not against wealth. I am not against comfort. I am against stagnation, because if you stagnate, you are only half alive.

It made me realize that I harbor a belief that being deeply rooted to a place makes you deeply rooted in the comfort of your identity. Hating to disappoint others, might one be scared to do or say something that is contrary to the opinion of others? They might never get to experience the lightness and freshness of change! Of course, I do think thamovingt one can reinvent oneself in the midst of these strong attachments, but I think it must be ruthlessly difficult to challenge people’s perception of them. When people have a definition of who they think you are, it’s often difficult to get them to change their mind. But the definition that is the most challenging to change is the one we give ourselves: the one that is full of “can’ts” and “don’ts”. That’s the stuff that needs to be released, the beliefs that we cling to, and no one but oneself can do that.

So as I stare at all of my stuff, literally, and decide what is going to be shipped, I think it is important to reflect on this passage of my life–the China chapter–and consider what memories and insights I want to bring with me:  the ready smiles of my neighbors, the curiousity of locals when they see foreigners, the kindness and generosity of friends found here, the cacaphony of millions of people celebrating, the smell of the orange blossoms and the utter freedom of not giving a rat’s ass of what you look like to others (including the bold public display of excrementing) here. I want to stow that away as well.

No matter if you are intrepridly anchored to a place or a global nomad like myself, I think this exercise of unpacking and repacking our identity is an important exercise. Evaluating the “junk” and “clutter” in our beliefs and liberating them to the garbage heap is so profoundly necessary for our minds to feel the possibility of our own potential. What is truly valuable and extraordinary about oneself that is worth keeping, and subtracting from there might be a useful strategy. I’m thinking of my own list right now of redeeming qualities and wondering what I need in this next journey that awaits me.

What about you? What would you pack?



Year of the Cock (or Rooster for the young and modest)

This is my final year living in China, and how I will miss it so. I know for many people, especially those of you who have never peeked behind its red curtain, you will never appreciate what a delightful place it is to live.  For the last 4 years, my motto has become, “you can’t make this sh$%t up” because this place is so full of surprises. So, I’m dedicating a series of blog posts in an effort to commemorate this special time in my life and summon some love for China–because, quite frankly, there’s a lot to love about this crazy place.

We are still in the midst of holiday season here, as the Chinese New Year is fast approaching and commences around the  27th of  January, depending on the moon. There’s a lot to this holiday, so today I only plan to focus on the Chinese Zodiac, which is based upon lunar cycles and has some fascinating elements behind it.

First of all, in the creation story,  Buddha (or God) wanted to make a calendar before departing from Earth. He summoned all the animals to a race, and the first 12 animals to cross the finish line were the ones who were awarded the privilege of the zodiac for this calendar. So, you could say that no matter which Chinese Zodiac sign you are, you are a winner! hahaha


2017 is the Year of the Rooster, which is most unlucky for you if you are one. Yep–your Zodiac Year is 365 days of confusion and misfortune–or so the belief is. Don’t distress, however, because wearing red (especially something given to you from an elder) helps to ward off ill fate and create harmony in your zodiac year. But for all of us other signs, it means a year of hard work is ahead. No sitting on your loins and procrastinating. Get busy! If you put in the effort, then this is supposed to be a good year to increase your wealth and health. So, if you have been slipping on your New Year’s Resolution, then it’s time to get back on track because the rewards will be plenty for those who are diligent.

Speaking of Chinese New Year–no, it is not the custom to make New Year’s Resolutions during this time; however, it is a time to pay off debts, clean the house and look spiffy with a new hairdo.

So there you have it, that’s a brief rendering of this wonderful element of Chinese culture.