‘God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.’
William Cowper, Light Shining out of Darkness
Beijing is in 9,763 mi from Park City in Utah. According to Google maps, getting to the North Capital of China (as that’s what it means in Mandarin, Nanjing being the southern capital traditionally) by car, from the picturesque mountain resort in US would take 36 days and 23 hours.
If you would be heading by car to Beijing from Park City, you should head northwest on Park Ave toward 7th St, then continue onto UT-224 N, turn left and then right to merge onto I-80 W.
Point 36 of suggested by Google maps itinerary Park City, UT, United States to Beijing, China : Kayak across the Pacific Ocean…
Google does make an effort to amuse its users with gags, Easter eggs,the famous interactive Doodles etc., and this Kayaking across the Pacific is one of those friendly pranks, because… i mean, who in their right mind would drive from Utah to Beijing?!
Yet, stranger things have happened.
Back in 1999 i moved to China and if by chance you wouldn’t have nothing better to do do with your time (albeit i doubt it), you can read about it at ‘About me’ page of this very blog.
It all seemed to had happened by chance, as the saying goes – life is what happens to us while we are busy with other things.
A colleague from the State Protocol had brought me a newspaper add where scholarships were offered for Chinese studies – she knew i was immersed in the yixie, studies of the mysterious Book of Changes, said to be the cornerstone of Chinese philosophy.
This is a rewritten post i made in 2009 elsewhere: I started some 15 or 16y ago, with Wilhelm’s translation (translated once again) into my mother tongue – i couldn’t understand the text in any other language but my own back then – and Jung’s foreword.
I loved the book immediately – i did ask what it thinks of me (as i got it that’s what you should ask ) – and it hit me with the fourth hexagram… ‘The Young Fool’. So i thought to myself, ‘ok, this is one honest person… pardon, book that is, and this is obviously a beginning of a beautiful friendship! ‘
I couldn’t get literature specifically on Yi Jing, so i dived into Fung Yu Lan’s Chinese Philosophy and just about anything by Jung and his students that i could get.
The 8th lectures which i got later on were a discovery for me; i read and worked with all the available to me translations – including Blofeld’s , Crowley’s and R.L. Wing’s ;
had given up at one point of time; then afterwords moved to China to learn the language so i can get their civilization and overall thinking somewhat better.
Somewhere at the point when i thought to give up all together, i ran into good translation into my language and it gave me the boost i needed to go on.
Now i must say that in the course of years i had met two people who claimed to be pro’s with Yi Jing, after going for years to their lectures and studying from their materials i ended up with the conclusion they fitted whatever they believed anyway – into Yi Jing , which is wrong, its like various fundies finding quotes in the Bible that could confirm just about anything – while dismissing the fact it was written in ancient language, coded – and very hard, if possible at all to translate.
And while i couldn’t divine with the Book – it always inspired me and gave me wise advice, so i kept reading it.
Now, after all these years, i am starting to make sense of the answers i am getting.
Back then, this was an intro to an I Ching casting i shared at an online community, asking the learned folks there for insights.
You see, i am drawn to such subjects where 15-16 years of study are still baby steps in the field.
I Ching, Yiddishkeit and Kabbalah, Tarot studies – that’s my chosen subjects. I am often credited for having the will and perseverance it takes to learn foreign languages, but the thing is that to me those languages were only means to an end where i could put my claws on books written on the subjects i was dying to learn.
And that’s how i ended up in Beijing, where i met Rebecca from Park City. Ours is one of those friendships that start ‘at the first sight’. I don’t even remember who introduced us, but we became inseparable ever since.
They say, when universe loves a woman, it sends her a friend. That’s pretty much how i felt about meeting Rebecca, she and i were together in this adventure of discovering for ourselves an ancient civilization, travelling, studying, partying and making friends.
There is something about these friendships that started at the turn of the century in a distant land – something that brought together people who by ordinary criteria don’t have much in common… and that something still keeps these people together, in a way that reminds us how intertwined our destinies are, albeit the distance, albeit everything.
All ex-Yugoslavs in Beijing became friends instantly, nevertheless our respective countries had fought four bloody ethnic wars in the preceding decade; our circle expanded and included people from every single country you can think of – and many you probably never heard of.
Israelis, Russians, Americans, Saudi Arabians, Eastern and Western Europeans… All ages, from all walks of life, with only one thing in common – travelling to a far off land to look for something that was missing at home.
I have been writing a lot about that experience as it’s basically there and then that i restored my faith in the humanity – you can imagine how shaken it was after the ex-Yugoslav wars.
Normal people, not brainwashed, not instructed, not bombarded by the media BS; far away from our respective families, from our communities and old friends – and just about anything we knew before – we built a community which was friendly and supportive and became like one big extended international family.
There was no one to remind us the wars we fought, the who bombed who, who was the “traitor”, who was the “aggressor”, who was everyone’s enemy – and so on, the usual instructing we get via formal education, evening news, family history and so on.
And i got it how it works. Borders are a fictitious things, and so are religions. It’s all quite conditional and a subject to change. It’s us who let others with agendas put labels on us and separate the humanity. Those who bring this separation don’t have a vision of a perfected world, but of a divided one, where money is made and influence gained on the very separation.
As Niccolo Machiavelli rightly noted some six centuries ago, politics have no relation to morals.
Exempt the politics – and the lobbies behind it, exempt the stupid religious dogmatism and what you get is – HUMANISM.
That’s what all of us experienced living in China, that’s what in my experience is left when all the other –isms are cast away. And that’s the experience we shared with Rebecca and that group of friends who met in Bejing in 1999/2000.
Against the odds, we managed to keep that something that brought us together back then, more so as the time goes by, i am more and more convinced that very something does care to be kept by us who got to knew it and reminds us about itself quite often.
You see, couple of years after the Beijing experience, Rebecca did traveled from US to where i am – to the magical teeny once-kingdom, hidden high in the mountain wreaths of Balkan peninsula, and – as she would tell you – she loved it here.
And not to forget that it’s Rebecca’s mother who sent me my first Raider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck, it wasn’t available in these parts back then (still isn’t, sadly).
Tomorrow evening is the launch of my third book, Devil – an unauthorized biography, which is Tarot inspired collection of poems, coming with Francisco J. Campos’ Vaudeville Tarot.
Sadly, professor Susan Gunter, Ph.D. is out of the city, otherwise she would come – but she has my book and she knows the presenter, our gifted poetess, literature critic and known expert in William Blake – Tanja Bakic, so i don’t feel that bad about it.
And in two weeks, when Susan is back and we continue our Memoirs and Poetry Workshop at American Corner in Podgorica, Montenegro – Tanja promised to attend and to present her work as well.
Tanja is very busy at this time as she is one of the moving forces behind Podgorica’s Winter Book Fair, so she couldn’t come to the dinner the other night hosted for Susan to meet the president of our Writer’s Guild (CDNK), Mijo Popovic – the evening was memorable…
I am a pro writer as tou know, but it might seem to you that i am loosing the plot here… well, not really;
you see, today Susan emailed me to ask whether i know certain Rebecca… My Rebecca, from Beijing. It turned out that Susan is close friends with her mother, the very lady who sent me my first RWS which in its turn became major influence on my work…
Had i mention i started writing in China, back then?
So, that’s what you get when you dare to take out the –isms… and it doesn’t really matter what you call it, the thing is that it’s good.