One of my resolutions for 2016 has been to deepen my practice of gratitude, including writing something every day about what I’m grateful for. It’s been a huge gift to start the year in China, where I am full of wonder for this huge world, the humanity and hope and yearning in it, and most important, so so full of gratitude for the freedom of Canada.
I knew that there were “chinese censors of the internet,” and I’ve experienced some weirdness about online access before in rwanda and myanmar. But here, Facebook is illegal, which means I get notifications that I have messages in messenger but can’t read them and can’t access FB at all; google is suspect, so I had to figure out a workaround on safari on my ipad through bing to search anything; my gmail (being google) has gradually stopped working on everything except my ipad through mail (and I’m waiting for that to shut down, since that happened on my phone); I can’t access cbc website or download any cbc podcasts; I can’t access the NY Times, not even to update the crossword in my crossword app. And of course because I am relying on wifi, I can only text people through imessage. This notion of gradually having all means of connection shut off is at first frustrating (why is the little ball spinning?) and then as it dawns, you realize how in this context, worlds get smaller and narrower, and what is true gets defined within this space.
I met some Chinese people on NY’s Eve who talked about how hard it is to be young and feel so few options, to feel so trapped. They named their son something that represented hope for knowledge in the bigger world (I don’t want to share it because it would identify them, but it was so poignant). He was a beautiful 2 year old. It was the best gift I could have had for NYE — deep connection with people about their hopes for their lives, how hard it is to be in this place with so few choices. Reminding me of my privilege, the world I live in.
(Want to post a photo of him hiding under a table, but again, now I am paranoid about causing them trouble).
Since I got to china, my eyes have been burning and my chest tightening with the pollution. This and the censorship are emphatic punctuation: you live in good place. And, people everywhere make gestures of hope, sing happy birthday in a tiny Hunan restaurant, share food, open up to others, survive as fully as they can, and who yearn to travel and see things outside themselves. I’m so glad I came to China.