4 The Chinese Scholar

One day, I take out my brushes and ink, wanting to compose a poem to give words to the sadness I am feeling. I have always been good at Chinese calligraphy. As a wee girl going to school in Hong Kong, I was often praised by my teachers and later won calligraphy awards.

While I hated everything about school, I loved calligraphy classes.

I get a sheet of parchment paper and as the brush starts to move the words begin to fly out of my heart. The poem comes out in Chinese classic calligraphy style but the words are in English:

 

A Love Letter to Him

It hurts me to speak of him. He makes me cry. I love him so much.

He gave me everything, completely, all of his power, all of his riches, all of him. He gave himself completely to me. I’m so grateful. I don’t know how to express my gratitude except to love him with all of me. Like he loves me with all of him.

He is my twin flame, soul mate, the counterpart. With him I become complete, without him I am half. I was seeking him until I understood that he has never left me. He is where I am because he and I are One.

He needs me so much, he wraps himself around me. I am the only way he can feel his own love. I know my love came from him and I am the one with the power to give the love back to him so he can feel love too. The two of us are but silly children bouncing love back and forth so fast, until there is just one thing.

All is Love.

 


 

I finish the poem and feel a sense of deep happiness. I feel delighted at my own upbringing. Just like my father, a scholar educated in China and America, I was raised in China and completed higher education in America. Fluent in both cultures, I’m a unique combination of East and West.

It is at this point that I suddenly feel the proximity of a river. I feel the moisture, I hear the sounds, I smell the freshness. I know I am in the wilderness. I can smell the trees. I take in a big gulp of air, I smell a fire burning.

I know that I am a man!

I’ve had lucid dreams in the past where I take on the identity of someone else while remaining myself in today’s Los Angeles. Now, I am not dreaming but the feeling of knowing that I am a man is exactly that of becoming lucid in a dream.

I close my eyes and dip deeper into my self-imposed trance. I feel myself to be a man in the wilderness by a river. Who am I? I see his life before me as if I am watching a movie.

Though it’s “his” life that I see, I also feel that it is my life. All that he says is felt by me. I do not experience words but instead experience feelings and scenarios complete with smell and sound.

I am a scholar during the Tang Dynasty known for my excellent calligraphy skills. I am from a well-to-do family and have traveled through my country far and wide, from sea to sea. I do not like to be involved in politics. I do not like people. I’ve never been married – I am a loner. Now, at thirty, it’s time to settle down. I have purchased a piece of property as far away from people as I could find. It takes several days of hiking to get to me. I hire builders to build a beautiful bamboo house overlooking a river. I hire several young boys to work for me. They hike into town to bring back provisions, they cook, wash and take care of all my needs. I am very happy here, left alone to read, write and meditate.

Many happy years pass in solitude. I know I am a recluse but that’s fine by me. I see no need to change myself. My body is getting more frail now. I am getting old and my bones ache at night. My temper is short when the pain gets severe. I can not stand the boys who work for me so one by one I dismiss them until I am left with only one boy. I do not like him but I do need one person to light the fire and bring back food.

One night, I am ill with a fever. I am thirsty but I am weak and can not stand. I call for the boy but he doesn’t answer. I realize that I had kicked and insulted him when last we spoke and he hasn’t been back since. He must have run away. My throat is hurting me. I feel like a large, dry stone is stuck in my throat and it is weighing me down. I call out for water but my voice is so feeble. I know there is no one who will come to my aid.

At this moment, I begin to regret my loner ways. I regret not passing my discoveries, my knowledge and my thoughts on to the next generation. I wish I had made more of an effort to share. I feel like a failure. As my heartbeat decreases and my brain gradually shuts off, my hands tighten into hard fists. I feel my fingers digging into my palms as a bluish darkness covers me. I cannot help but repeatedly think, “I should have shared, if only I had shared…”

As the vision of the Chinese scholar fades and I gradually become myself again, I am extremely aware that his final wish vibrates strongly in my body.

In this lifetime, I am a loner who prefers solitude yet I have a very deep need to share. I am an introvert who, at the same time, is an extrovert. The story of the scholar gives me a poetic understanding of my own nature.

I’ve come to this life to share, not be alone.

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