I’ve been back for over a week now from China and have found the process of settling back into a “normal” routine is taking longer than expected. For sure, I am more than happy to be back on home soil and tending to the Peace Fire and such, but like the photo above, a partial fog hovers over my mood like a soft blanket of sadness.
For the past few days I have been mulling over what this feeling is about and from whence it comes. This morning I received the following email from my partner, Sally, who, after three months of living in China, is leaving in a couple of days to return to Australia. What she writes points towards this difficulty of adjustment.
I am sad to be leaving. Ready for a change from the hospital hours, but there is a part of me that would like to stay and enrich the relationships that have been slowly building, learn the language and get to know this nation’s people a little more. I will miss their friendliness and their gentle innocent humour. There is such a softness to the people here, and a softness between the people and an ability to live so easily amongst one-another, or on top of one-another. There is a basic acceptance of human nature and survival that I’m not sure exists at home. Less ego. Less toes to be stepped on (even though there are more toes around.)
Wandered through the streets. Lots of activity, different smells, red lanterns, street stalls cooking meat, flute music here, rock music there, handbags and high-heels, cars honking, bicycles, people. How will Australia feel after all of this?? I will miss this crazy place.
What she writes encapsulates clearly the pain all travellers experience (must experience) after immersing themselves into another culture and then choosing to move on to another place or returning home.
And “home” is never quite the same again. When I returned home last week after dark and after a 30 hour flight, two things stood out: the total lack of sound and the unpeopled sense of emptiness. No wind, no waves hitting the beach, no animal noises. It was as though the land had fallen quiet out of respect for what I had left behind. Eerie, it was.
So, we do the simple things to stay in touch; to rekindle the memories. Mornings still find me carrying on the practice of learning the Chinese language. I’m also looking into taking Chinese cooking lessons.
More importantly, though, the stone from Taishan Mountain that I swapped with the Roaring Beach stone is now nestled among the other stones on the Ancestral Midden (it’s the brown and white one near centre bottom of the photo).
It gets a special pat on my daily visit to the Peace Garden.