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Every Day Acts of Peace

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Qingdao, China 2000: Worrying Interrupts Peaceful Digestion

We toured sixteen hospitals
in three weeks in six cities
and the countryside in China.

We ate with countless local politicians,
sang songs,
toasted peace, shook hands,
hugged bodies, kissed cheeks,
danced with doctors
and talked with their women patients.

We watched 
acupunctured elderly get needled,
translated surgical operations,
visited children's wards,
and tickled babies 
being massaged by mothers 
in prenatal 
corporate American sponsored classes.

We chatted with Taoist monks 
in Daoism oaths of silence
living remote 
in high ridge 
mountain temples.

I swear the man 
who sold barbequed meat tacos and oranges 
outside the Chinese consulate 
in downtown Los Angeles -
is the same man 
who sold barbequed meat and oranges 
outside the Taoist Temple 
in upcountry northern China.

They both wore Nikes, 
drank Coca-Cola, 
and pulled at their baseball caps
while wiping their hands 
on their tee-shirts that read;
“I’ve walked the Great Wall of China 
and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”.

Vans shuttle international tourists 
to buy domestic
souvenir coins, statues, beads, 
prayer books and carved good fortune 
in the form of the Buddha.

Vans shuttle domestic tourists 
to buy international
food, water, clothing and foot wear.
While all of us from wherever we came from 
stand around tossing wishes 
embossed on coins winged into a fountain.

I think of the Dalai Lama 
whose lectures I attended in Hollywood -
He laughed at the world, 
with the world, its state, us,
and how seriously we take everything, 
including him and his words.
I enjoy the company of men 
who laugh at themselves,
while living in societies 
populated by seriousness.

I toss a wish on a coin 
and think of my friend 
at the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles
who, when issuing my Chinese entry visa, 
agreed with me -
that people might rot from the inside out
if they don’t slow down just a little,
worry less, 
and chew their food just a little more.
We both agreed that worrying 
interrupts peaceful digestion.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Sometime after 1741 Sebastien Roch Nicolas Chamfort wrote,
“All passions exaggerate: 
It is only because they exaggerate 
that they are passions...”