These photos of architectural details are some more of my “archive” images. Since I have a birthday coming up soon (no gifts, please, just cash), I may shop for a new digital camera.
I’m writing this post on what would be Thanksgiving Day, if I were in the States. It was a cold and wet day, and my classroom floor this morning was littered with open, drying umbrellas. I finally found out how to work the heaters in my apartment, and I had a toasty nap this afternoon, after starting to re-read The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
I had a moment of clarity today; don’t worry, it doesn’t happen often. I suddenly realized that the month of December is my double birthday month: it’s when I celebrate my chronological age (51 this year – ouch!) and also my sobriety date. I will turn Sweet 16 in my new life without alcohol. It’s a miracle. At the end of this semester, I will also celebrate one year of experience as a teacher.
My first-ever teaching gig was at Aspect International Language Academy in Whittier, CA, summer 2005. That was a 2-hour subway and bus ride each way, every day. Next I put in some time at Poly Languages Institute in Los Angeles. That was a rough time, working two jobs and six days a week. In China, I taught the English Summer School this July, and now I’m a “regular” teacher for the academic year.
I have to admit that this first semester at UESTC has been VERY difficult. It’s produced all kinds of challenges: emotional, intellectual, creative, and professional. I’ve had to literally create an English course for postgraduates from nothing, with little guidance. I’ve learned what works from trial and error. I’ve learned to teach without textbooks, handouts, photocopies, or anything besides a PowerPoint presentation and my own voice and gestures. On top of that, I’ve dealt with culture shock, and the residual feelings of leaving my former life, and virtually all of my material possessions, behind.
In the midst of all these changes, I have to remind myself to practice gratitude for all that I have: for the person I am, for new life I live, for my students, and for my challenges.
Life is nothing if not interesting. I got a sweet email message from my friend Puba today, who is now in Lhasa:
ni hao !
i pu ba , la sa, la sa is gude, o k, baibai
Bye-bye [baibai], Puba!
Decorative support on a railing, River Viewing Tower
To be able to question or ponder the meaning of life is quite a privilege.
One of the most effective practices I have discovered, one which seldom fails me… is the conscious cultivation of gratitude as a state of being — a gratitude state of mind….I find myself in a general state of thankfulness in which all my problems are again viewed with perspective.
-Christian de la Huerta, Revolutionary Wisdom/Q-Spirit (author of
Coming Out Spiritually) http://www.revolutionarywisdom.us
Posted on: Gay Buddhist
Open Forum 11/22/06