Day 9: Vanishing Art

It was meant to disappear, and be born again.

Okay, so my attempt last night to go to bed early failed. Second attempt commencing… expected failure, but still hopeful for a full night’s rest. Basically, this is going to be a very short post. I’m limiting myself to a few sentences per topic.

Taiji:

We had our first Taiji class today! The movements are circular and smooth to mirror natural movements made by every body around us in daily life. Our instructor wore a long white robe similar to the man I observed on the street, and a translator accompanied him during the lesson.

However, the translator… hm… he was different. Now, the master spoke in a soft voice and gestured with long arm movements, careful to never seem unnatural or uncomfortable. On the other hand, his translator (about 20) wore skinny jeans, with spiked hair, a bedazzled phone case, bright sneakers and carried a thick notepad. Whenever the master spoke in Mandarin for a solid three minutes, the translator would only say “he says to breathe” or “he said relax.” Later in the class, my friend asked if this was a fighting style, or a form of meditation/yoga.

Naturally, the master invited him up to the front of the class, and told him to attack…

We all thought this would end very poorly, but my friend managed to pin him on the ground. However, this only pissed off the master, who soon flipped the situation around and had my friend on his back in a matter of seconds… Don’t mess with guys in white robes.

Chopsticks:

You should all be very proud of me. Yuan Yuan, Kevin and I went out to visit a temple for the Buddha today, and decided to indulge in some Xi’an specialties. We ate a famous dish that consisted of thin noodles and chunks of I’m-not-really-sure-what in a soupy broth. It was delicious.

But, they gave me a spoon…

Normally, I would be thankful for the spoon. But I haven’t used a spoon in over a week. I ended up asking for chopsticks, which unexpectedly made eating much faster (I’m learning).

Carnival:

I’m going to say this fast because I could go into great detail, but my eyes are drooping. Around the temple were all sorts of games and sources of entertainment for the public. The three of us ran around in a House of Horrors, a video game simulation, and bumper car arenas. A water and lights show ended the night with delightful music and HUGE crowds. I had the best time, and I felt like I was in one of those look-at-how-happy-we-are montages in crappy movies.

The Vanishing Art:

This really caught my attention. At the “carnival,” a man was painting characters on the ground over the cobblestones. I watched the large bristles of his brush dance over the surfaces effortlessly to form perfect Chinese characters, and then looked on in horror as they started to disappear. He was not writing down characters for the public to view in the future; he was painting with water. The characters vanished into the air in a matter of minutes after shaping the words.

“Poetry,” Yuan Yuan pointed out. The old man was writing poetry, but by the time he finished, most of it was gone.

It reminded me of the Taiji practice earlier when our master explained that everything is a circle; all movements have closure, as life does. The Chinese character system is so deeply embedded in the culture that they will never be fully erased like this man’s poetry; it’s for the people actively watching to enjoy.

I’ll be able to explain these in more detail another time, but I desperately need “to have a rest,” as my host family would say. Interpret these events in any way you would like, but know that every culture has so much depth… I can’t even wrap my head around it.

Sorry for the curt post. More later,

Ana

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