Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dr. Zhao's Gege (older brother) and his Gift, 'Sitting for a Month' & Twins!




Greetings Friends!

I am so moved and deeply touched. yesterday Dr. Zhao's 'Gege' - his older brother whom I call Da Bai -- came by the clinic again. What I didn't tell you in our last exchange is that he said he was going to write a poem for me and write it out in beautiful calligraphy on special scroll paper as a gift. Well yesterday he came by the clinic with his most precious self and heart and his beautiful gift. I actually have tears in my eyes. I just read his words again (to make sure I understand them all in preparation for my translation for you :)) and feel an ache in my heart -- it's a 'gratitude ache' -- Do you feel those sometimes? It's not a painful ache, it's a depth of feeling, an awe and thankfulness ache :). It's an ache that often spontaneously allows me to let go of any 'xiao shiqing' -- small thing thoughts -- and surrender to the beauty and magic and grace life can bring. Sometimes so unexpectedly, without feeling I've done something to earn it...it just ...plop...is here in my lap and presenting it's beauty to me.

So Da Bai (Dr. Zhao's older brother) came with a scroll wrapped with a red bow. He proceeded to tilt his little navy blue cap back and pull out another rather large piece of rice paper, unwrap it and explain that on this paper he wrote me a note to explain his feelings, his poem, why he wrote it, and also to write the poem out in more 'readable' characters so I would know exactly what it said. Wow! Well this 'note' is quite a piece of art in and of itself!!! His calligraphy is outstanding - most beautiful and what he said brings tears to my eyes and my depth of thanks ache to my heart. He writes with such elegance and grace and truly honors the Chinese language with the beauty he creates through his choice of words. One special thing about the Chinese language is that much, much can be said in just a few characters. Each character has a depth of meaning and can have multiple, varied meanings depending on the context. Putting them together in a way that uses few words, and yet paints a deep picture and creates a beautiful cadence is a true art. I'll explain the letter and then translate the poem.

In his letter he says:
Kailun Laoshi (Karen teacher): "Ni xingku le! Neng zai wo de jia xiang yu ni xiang shi, bei gan rong xing. Nin zhi shen yi ren, yuan bu zhong yang lai Zhongguo yanxiu zhong yi, qi xing wei, qi jing shen kan jing kan pei, ling ren dongrong xinzhe. Wei biaoshi dui nin de jingzhong zhi qing, wo wei nin xie le si ju shi. Shi shi zheyang xie de:

"I acknowledge your hardships! Having you here and the opportunity to be your acquaintance, I feel very fortunate. You, on your own, came across the great oceans to China specifically to study Chinese medicine -- your manner, your spirit, evoke respect and admiration and cause people to feel enchanted. As a way to express my feelings of great respect, I wrote this 4-lined poem. The poem goes like this:"

And here's his poem:
Da Yang bi an mei Kailun,
Qiuzhi cong bu wei jianxin.
Gong cheng ming jiu zhi ri dai,
Chun feng hua yu cao mu xin.

From across the ocean shores beautiful Karen came (note: this has 2 meanings "mei" means beautiful and it is also short for 'Mei Guo' which means America :) - or Beautiful Country! How did we get so lucky to have the Chinese name our country - beautiful country?! :))
Eager to learn she has no fear of hardship.
Her success is soon to come - as close as the next rising sun,
Life-giving spring breezes and rain, fallen petals creates new life (this last sentence - so elegant in Chinese alludes to the life-giving essence of spring to the life-giving essence of education - and learning from older knowledge, wisdom then is born again in new life through us.--- See English takes many many more words to express than Chinese :))

In his letter, he also mentioned that he wrote 2 poems for me -- one -- the one I just translated above, and the other (so there's actually 2 scrolls) is a poem written by a famous poet, Guo Moruo - he wrote it while in Hangzhou (one of the most beautiful cities in China) as he was so moved by the beauty he experienced there.

I wish I could convey the essence of the beauty of this all written in Chinese -- below are some pictures 1) of the 'letter' he wrote me, 2) - though it's blurry - of me and him holding up the scroll with his poem, and 3) one of him and Dr. Zhao looking at the poem rolled out on one of the treatment tables.


I was so moved by his kindness and generosity, that it seemed most of my Chinese left my brain for a few moments and all I could say is -- Wo ganxie nin, wo hao gandong!!" Thank you - I am so grateful and deeply moved!" I desired so much to express more how touched I was and how honored I am to know him and what a marvelous poet and person his is ....and well...I am hoping all I desired to express in words, he was able to receive from my spirit. I also had a great desire to give him a BIG hug!!! And as I mentioned in one of my last updates, that hugs are not the norm here, I managed to restrain myself long enough to ask him if he'd be okay with me giving him a hug. I guess Dr. Zhao has told his family about our American hugging 'customs' because he laughed and said 'yes, yes' and I gave him a big hug! Yay!

The 3 of us (Da Bai, Dr. Zhao and I) sat at Dr. Zhao's desk for a while while Dr. Zhao was talking about some of his research. Da Bai listened and also began to scribble something on a piece of paper in front of him. He then handed it to me while returning to look up at his younger brother and listen to what he was saying. I looked down and it said, "Kailun hen liaobuqi!!" "Karen is amazing!" Wow! He is amazing! This is so amazing that he is saying this!! And how fun to pass notes too!! :) So I scribbled something down and passed it back, while I then returned to looking up at Dr. Zhao and listening to what he was saying. :) I had written, "Nimen hen liaobuqi!!!" "You both (meaning him and Dr. Zhao) are AMAZING!!!" Da Bai looked down to see what I wrote and began to laugh! :) Gosh, remember when I said coming to China is a great way to 1) get a self-confidence booster and 2) become younger? Well here's another example of the gifts of so many compliments that are given so generously and genuinely. (Have any of you booked your tickets to come yet? :) --I'm planning to come back so maybe you can come too! :))

Heart Patient
Also included below is a picture of me with one of Dr. Zhao's patients.


She came in because of feeling dizzy. Dr. Zhao felt her pulses and then called me over to feel. They weren't regular or even -- almost like a hesitation in her beating. He told her to get a cardiogram and in 1 hour she came back with the results. It was amazing to see what we had felt with our hands on paper!! Last week, Dr. Zhao had explained the very basics of how to read one of these cardiograms to me so I could tell by looking at it where the irregularity in her heart cycle was. Dr. Zhao then had me do a basic neck massage treatment and afterward she exclaimed, "Oh qing le!" "Oh I feel much lighter!" Oh excellent! I was very happy and so was Dr. Zhao -- he told me to get my camera and he would take a picture of us both -- it's the one of us both sitting down -- I'm wearing one of the 'herbal dispensary' aprons :).

"Man Yue" - "Full Month Celebration" - Twins!
Also included are some pictures from an event I went to with Ayi on Sunday -- it was a 'manyue' (full month) event. When women in China and Taiwan give birth, the month afterward is a special time of rest, recuperation and regeneration for the mother and an important growth time for the baby. During this month (called 'zuo yue zi' -- meaning literally 'sit for a month' -- I did my college Anthropology senior thesis on this topic from my field research in Taiwan -- if any of you are interested, I can tell you a lot more about it -- there are many riches in this one practice :)), woman and their baby are to stay inside, not to shower (to prevent any chance of catching cold), and must eat many very 'bu shenti, bu xue de dongxi' -- nourishing food for their body, blood and bones. Usually it's the mother-in-law's duty to cook and provide the up to 5-6 meals a day and take care of her daughter-in-law and new baby. These days it's often whomever is closer -- the mother's own mother or her mother-in-law -- and in some cases they can both help a new mother go through this month. Well, at the end of the month, there's a big celebration -- and it's called 'man yue' -full month -- and....as the Chinese love 'renao' (lively atmospheres), this event is again very 'renao'! There are lots of kids, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends of all ages who come to celebrate, share a meal and bring gifts.

This 'manyue' party was celebrating a the birth of Ayi's older sister's daughter's daughter's babies (I think I got that right! :)) And guess what? They're twins!! A boy and a girl! And they're adorable!! I also took a picture of Ayi's older sister's grandson and her daughter-in-law. As I've said, the kids here are sooooo cute!!! I could make a photo album just of all the kids I've met :)



Huang He
Also included are a couple of pictures of my outing to Huang He (Yellow River) with Dr. Zhao, Ayi, and their grandson, Gaogao :). Huang He is a HUGE and powerful river and much history (most recent during WWII in the late 1930s when the Chinese decided to open the levees to prevent the Japanese soldiers from advancing - which it did -- but it also killed 100s of thousands of Chinese civilians and caused great environmental damage) surrounds the ebbs and flows and floods of the enormous amount of water flowing in this river. Included is a good picture of Dr. Zhao and Gaogao in front of a big memorial for those who died in the flood mentioned above. While the river doesn't look so big in the picture, now is its dry season -- it can span the length of the LONG bridge we saw (it's so long I didn't even see the other end of the bridge!)



And I included a picture of Ayi and Gaogao. We had to take Gaogao home to finish his homework. As it was his English homework that he had left to do, I thought, "oh good! I can help him!" But as I sat next to him, he said in his mischievous way, "Bu. Bu neng. Ni bu hui!" "No you can't -- you don't know how!" -- Ha! "ta hen tiao pi" :) "He's a mischievous little boy" -- he was quizzing me on my English when we were in the car together when we went to Kaifeng and I must not have 'passed' his test :)


Oh, my time here is so precious. I just also got back from another evening session with Dr. Zhao. We're going through some of the herbal remedies in the book he gave me. Each herbal 'soup' has a beautiful 'gejue' or poem that explains what it's for and what herbs are in it. Dr. Zhao has memorized this whole book!! He's been reciting many of them by memory for me today! Quite amazing!!

He said he started studying Chinese medicine just bit by bit. In starting he didn't think, 'oh I'll be a doctor someday' -- he just desired to learn and grew up around herbs and his grandfather who was a brilliant doctor. So he slowly learned. But he said, I'm lucky. At least I have a teacher who is willing to teach so patiently!! His words are so true. I feel deeply blessed. I have another week here and will then go to Inner Mongolia to see my friend Claire Johnson before coming back to the States.

Thank you again for all of your emails!!! Even if I haven't responded yet, I am so grateful for your sharings and love receiving your letters.

Much Great Love to you!

Love,

KarenJoy

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