the Adventure Lifestyle magazine


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 81 of 83

Exploring China In 1987 I befriended one Mr. Chen, a multilingual restaurateur and the unofficial mayor of Yangzhou (contrary to what local officials thought). Independent backpackers were new to recently "opened" China and Chen had a kind way with them. One afternoon, I joined Chen in an old rickety truck for a 70-mile journey to a little-known village. En route we passed an elderly man and his goat who were walking on the roadside in the nnnn'''H' direction. The man balanced two immense rice-bags on a pole across his back. It was hot and he was barefoot. looked to his left, made a strange honking call for his goat. When his ani­ mal returned to his side, he looked at Chen and spoke slowly. When he fin­ ished, Chen set his hand on my shoulder and winked, "He said that if you can't help someone, don't harm them." "Why are people mean to each other?" I asked as I stared back into the old man's eyes. He was pure human art, calmer than a sleep­ ing cat. Chen's voice rang into the air, "If you decline to accept someone's abuse, then it still belongs to them." I stepped from the vehicle to shake hands with the roadside sage. "Why do men and women quarrel?" The old man replied, "The rise of a man's mind from his scrotum to his-skull can be a long haul." Chen slapped me on the leg and the three of us burst into laughter. Now, when I replay those moments and think of the old man's kind and deeply wrinkled face, I recall that traffic jams and rude people are only one option. The roadside sage remains a permanent, benevolent echo. I left Yangzhou a week later. Mr. Chen walked me to the bus stop and offered me a hearty embrace. Alluding to my unrealized dream of writ­ ing for a living, he encouraged me to pen the old man's wisdom. "Use it to start a book," he smiled, "and live with passion ." "Come on Chen, do you know how old I'll be by the time I get published?" Chen replied, "The same age you'll be if you don't." Twelve years, twenty letters and three books later, I received e birthday card from Mr. Chen In which he confessed that he had­ n't faithfully translated very much of what the roadside sage hed said. Indeed, everything I'd absorbed via translation from the old man had actually been Chen's, -bast wlshes ,for ��� yO�u�, m �y�fr�le�n: dl:��-=�==::=;;���iiii

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of the Adventure Lifestyle magazine - V2N1