This past Sunday we were fortunate enough to finally get a day of clear blue skies. I decided to go check out the Spring blossoms from atop some Beijing mountains. After several consecutive days PM2.5 levels above 300, I think the whole city was eager to venture out and take advantage of this breath of fresh air. After two hours of getting stuck in traffic on the outbound highways, I finally arrived at the foot of the mountain.
What a trek it was; there were different routes leading to an assortment of scenic areas, each more interesting than the next. I hopped along rock paths with young children and walked alongside seventy-year-old grannies who amazingly enough were climbing up the steepest hills with no problem. There were a few moments of absolute tranquility, looking out to the sea of warm colors below and hearing the wind lightly rustle through the Spring flowers. Even though I was alone in that foreign environment so far away from the bustling city center, I was able to find a feeling of peace, as if I were at home.
What is home, exactly? These days, it rarely points to a single physical location; it’s more a feeling…of familiarity, a place of center. We associate “home” with the existence of safety, comfort, and those we love and trust.
For those of us who are out on our own, trekking, exploring, “fighting the fight,” the concept of home is invaluable. It helps us to maintain our inner peace, and always have that center point to return to whenever we become physically or mentally stressed. For me, living alone in Beijing this past year has been really tough. With no relatives here and only a few friends who come and go, I am often adrift with no center. Even my own apartment does not feel like home, because when I am physically there, my spirit can still drift very far.
Therefore, I find it all-the-more important to find ways to let my mind rest. Sometimes that comes in the form of swimming twenty laps in the pool, sometimes in the form of cooking a feast (even if it means eating leftovers for a week), and sometimes in the form of singing a little personal karaoke with my nifty phone app. Funny enough, often times my mind can find respite when my body is engaged in some leisurely activity. Regardless of the action, the key is to focus my intents and energies on that present activity, to immerse myself fully in that experience and through which, find that place of peace, home.