Strong and Pure


When I was eleven years old my father announced we would be traveling through China. There were no computers or cell phones in 1984; the only place I could “log onto” was my imagination. It told me I was about to embark on the most exciting adventure yet! As an eleven–year-old traveler I experienced things in a different way than an adult. I was free of planning itineraries and expecting outcomes. I was also immune to being critical and sarcastic. I lived completely in the present and experienced the flow of life in its totality. My character mirrored exactly what I found China to be that fall of 1984: pristine and strong.

When we first arrived in China, I was stunned by the unspoiled environment of Beijing; there were no private cars. People used bicycles as their mode of transportation. The air was light and still, and the sky possessed a brightness I had never experienced at home. The city was nature-friendly. It was very comforting.

Our first stop was to learn about acupuncture. I had never seen or heard about this alternative form of medicine. We went to an acupuncture clinic and learned all about this traditional healing method in used by all in China. I was taken aback when I saw an elderly man lying face down on a metallic table with needles all over his bare body! He turned his head, smiled cheerfully and greeted us in Chinese. I was speechless.

Over the next days I experienced life in a spectacularly different way. However, the force I picked up from the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall of China made a lasting impression on me. The length and inclination of the wall stirred me. I could not capture it with my eyesight and there were parts of the wall that were impossible to climb because of the steepness of the terrain. As I contemplated the vastness of the Wall I sensed fear and despair. I could not stop thinking of the men who had built it and the purpose behind it

Similarly, when we arrived to Xian and saw the Terra Cotta Warriors (they had barely finished uncovering it) I felt the mightiness of the Chinese culture. The site was slightly under the ground and the air was denser. The colors were dark earth tones and the silence of the uncovered tomb was louder than a whisper. The army was lined up in hundreds of rows of perfect formation: ready to strike. There weren’t many visitors. We were allowed to walk through the rows and look closely at each one of the soldiers; each one of them was different. Each one of them had been a name, a story, an irreplaceable life. I experienced the determination and fierceness of the warriors. It gave me chills.

The purity and strength of the experience still allows me to appreciate it today. It also reminds to always travel with the heart and spirit an eleven year old.

L Ferguson

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