Digital Chinese Take Out for the Expat's SoulPosts RSS Comments RSS

Things to do in China when you are dying….

Don Quixote

I am a believer in synchronicity. I am convinced that external events happen in concert with internal “business” that begs attention. And, I believe, that these seemingly random, unplanned instructional happenings occur with an intuitive precision that defies the laws of chance.

I had been struggling with the writing of this this post for weeks; and then, two nights ago I watched Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes, talk about terminal illness and I knew it was time, ready or not, to type you this confession. First, I will digress a bit (imagine that)….

In high school I remember reading Carlos Castenada’s tales of enlightenment via teachings imparted by a Mexican Socerer named Don Juan. Castenda learned from his teacher, among other things, to live with death over his left shoulder and then passed on the message to us to “live life to its fullest” from one moment to the next. This thinking has helped drive me through enchanted landscapes on an amazing dialectical journey.

Anais Nin said, “People living deeply have no fear of death.” and Issac Asimov made it delightfully simple with: “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Ms Edwards, like the Unsinkable Ms Yue, has made a similar decision: she will get on with life. The choice for any of us is the same as hers as we don’t know what will befall us. We celebrate life or accede to dying. She has made the only reasonable decision there is to make. Ms Yue has done the same: Fund raising efforts for her have failed and business associates have stolen money and merchandise that were meant to aid her, but she remains un-embittered. She has days of doubt, but seems well equipped to cast a cold eye on death. She still laughs with perfect abandon.

I have to be honest: It hasn’t always been as easy for me. Last week one of Ms Yue’s relatives, a successful web designer in Hong Kong, died of cancer. He was in his thirties. In the days before his passing the stomach cancer made him so thin that his spirit was kept earthbound only by the weight of his family’s love. This event and contact with five of my students, all in their twenties, diagnosed with various cancers, Ms Yue’s ongoing battle and I often find myself in need of emotional waders. And that is why I have not posted about my battle, until now.

My body’s immune system is too vigilant. My natural defenses have enlisted in a war against healthy tissue and I am an uninvited host of the conflict. Treatments to date have not been effective and it is likely that I will die, and much sooner than I had hoped, from autoimmune disease. It has already claimed a gall bladder, nearly killing me in the process, and is now in the late phases of damage to my liver.

Some of you who know me well are aware that I taught Mind-Body Medicine long before it was fashionable. So, yes, I have been doing those things I should be doing to bring back health and homeostasis. But, sometimes a vessel is just flawed. Jim Fixx a celebrated runner/author died in mid-life of a heart attack owing to his genetic make-up. Many people wrongly viewed his passing as a case against the benefits of jogging. The opposite was true. And I am sure that, like his, my life has, and will be, prolonged by exercise, prayer, meditation and other interventions. But, the inevitable it is just that….

Not long before his death John Steinbeck drove his camper, Rocinante (named for Don Quixote’s horse), across America with his poodle Charley as his companion and penned a wonderful journal during the trip. I have longed to for such a land voyage ever since…

So, rather than lament my fate I have decided to take on a new project: I will be traveling next year to all 22 provinces in mainland China. I will end my trip in Beijing in time for a climb up the Great Wall before the Olympics. I have a fellow writer (he looks nothing like Charley or Sancho…) who will be joining me and we look to do some pretty ambitious things (videos, photo logs, the completion of Confucius Slept Here….) during our travels.

So, there will be soon another blog that will chronicle the adventure and it will be structured it so it can raise funds, via ads, for various causes while raising global awareness about a China not often presented to you by Western media. Andrew Young said, “It’s a blessing to die for a cause, because you can so easily die for nothing.” And while I am not so grandiose that I think I am creating a noble exit for myself, I do want this time to count for something more than a grand tour of the Middle Kingdom. Like Elizabeth and John Edwards I hope to be of service in the process of fulfilling a dream.

Today I was reminded of Somerset Maugham who thought death to be a dull and dreary affair and I advise you, as Maugham did, to have little to do with it. The new blog will be about China life on life’s terms and about those who choose to live it well.

I will tell you more in weeks to come. Onemanbandwidth will still be here during the trip and I hope you will be as well. For the record: I am in China for the duration and in the interim: I am typing as fast as I can…

American Poet in China,Asia,Asian Women,Cancer Journal,cartoons,China Cartoons,China Editorials,China Expats,China Olympics,Personal Notes,The Great Wall,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,Travel in China,Videos,中国

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Things to do in China when you are dying….”

  1. Sharon Clementson Jul 23rd 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I came across this blog from 2007 and wondered… did you make it to the Great Wall? did you make it to 2009?

  2. adminon Jul 24th 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Yes…..The stories are buried somewhere on

  3. A day in the life | American Professor: China Educator, Media, SEO, PR Consultanton Jul 25th 2009 at 12:39 am

    […] lament that I have not read a whole book straight thru in 2 years; get back up to take medicine for autoimmune condition that keeps me awake and in pain most nights; create 20 new business ideas I will be able to say in 10 years I thought of first–45 min. […]

  4. A day in the life « Asian Correspondenton Oct 18th 2009 at 4:00 am

    […] lament that I have not read a whole book straight thru in 2 years; get back up to take medicine for autoimmune condition that keeps me awake and in pain most nights; create 20 new business ideas I will be able to say in 10 years I thought of first–45 min. […]

  5. Rona Maynardon Dec 2nd 2009 at 8:54 am

    Another splendid post from one of the best writers I’ve found online. I find it heartening to read the date, more than two years ago. You’ve been typing very fast indeed and I am gratefully waiting for more dispatches.

  6. Aleksander Wykaon Jul 17th 2011 at 8:58 am

    I got to your post through a friend that has borrowed the Don Quixote picture for her own blog … I am impressed by its content, I’ll have to re-read it again so my brain that is still working slowly after a small nap can capture its whole semantic content. Well, in our western civilization we don’t believe in reincarnation which makes the whole process of dying so much more painful and more difficult to accept as we will not reborn again.
    It is our family joke to say that my mother who is now 95 is like “Lenin” – “She is always alive”, even if she wants to get out from this life that she find boring by now. We all love her very much and are happy to have her around but I would have accept her death as it something inevitable. I would have been a shock but we would have accept it, however it would have been like passing another post on our way to Hades. It could be even that she lives longer that my sister that fights with a health problem for years, well it is written somewhere or it is just a simple accident that we have to leave the LIFE even if we could still contribute some value to the society and to generate heaps of feeling from those that love us.

    Well, I came here with a question that I am asking without knowledge if you are still here: “Can I use this Don Quixote” picture on my web site (a commercial web site that will show my consulting services in ICT ?.

    The picture is being used just to highlight the fact that lots of people are taking unnecessary risks in project management and are due to fail given their lack of knowledge of problem domain and their lack of skills in risk mediation, that is where we can help them so they don’t become a modern Don Quixote that has left for an uncertain battle with windmills, not knowing its enemy and if he can win the battle.

Leave a Reply