Today I have come to realize that in our lives, we have things happen to us each day that are extremely small, unnoticeable, seemingly meaningless, that are however, crucial to the sculpting of who we are to be. Each choice we make, each place we go, person we associate with, thought we think, virtually everything that we do is shaping us. It is shaping you for the better, or for the worse. Today I was introduced to a little moment that was important to me. So I am writing this post for my own sake, so that I can look back on it and remember that the little moments are the crucial moments. I had a little moment today over here in China.
To start off, this weekend Janny, Heidi and I (the other English teachers living at my school) traveled to Nanjing for church. We headed out nice and early on Saturday to get the most out of this weekend. We live a good 4 hour commute from Nanjing which is where church is held, giving lots of time to soak in all the scenery of the journey, or to take a nice nap. On the way there, I foolishly closed myself off from the Chinese man next to me and just booked my ticket to slumber for the entire trip. After arriving at our destination, I realized how dumb that was of me to not say a word to him for the entire trip. I'm only in China for 4 months, this is going to be what I make it. Hindering a conversation like I did was not in my plan for what I wanted to get out of these 4 months. So on the way back home Sunday evening, I reminded myself to make way for the positive day, put my "I'm a white person, with blue eyes, who speaks in 18 weeks of Chinese 101 vocabulary language" pride behind me, and pulled out my totally American flavored "Ni hao" Chinese greeting from my mouth. The woman instantly lit up, and started speaking in almost perfect English to me! Wow, that is a first. I think her English is the best that I've come across yet, which any English at all is extremely rare in my rural, modest city. We talked and talked, laughing at our pronunciations of each other's languages, ooo-ing and aw-ing at each other's family traditions, and learning from each of our cultured backgrounds. I seriously was loving this bus ride so much. We talked of each other's families, she was excited to find out that mine included a HUGE number of 4 children, haha oh China:) I then asked what her son's name was, and she said with the biggest smile on her face, "Happy!" I instantly loved this woman so much. Seriously, that is the best name I have ever heard. Here in China, lots of people have "English names" which are usually very far from what we would consider a normal name... Orange, Diamond, Hraay, Glory, Bruce Lee.... just to name a few of my favorites, but Happy? Now THAT is a name. She said she named him that because the biggest thing she wants for him is to be happy in wherever he finds himself in life. I was just having the biggest love burst for this woman. My words, like always, will never accurately be able to express my thoughts, but I hope you can get a sneak peak of some of them. The little moment that I have come to cherish from today came next. We were talking about why I am here in China, why I am living in a "tourist insignificant"city, why I have thrown myself into a culture where I am blind to most of it because of such a large language barrier. The only reason I could come up with is because I'm crazy, but she said it was because I'm brave. She said that she wants her son to be just like me when he grows up- to be brave, to earn open eyes and an open heart through humbling himself through people who are not like him, to find joy on rainy days like this one, and to live up to his inspiring name: to be Happy in everything he does. Wow, what do you say to that? All I could say was thank you.
I was totally humbled by the woman I met on the bus today. Ever since she said that, I have had the strongest desire to try and be better in everything I do, because you never know who might be affected by who you are. I feel a responsibility to Happy, although I will never meet him. I want to live up to the role model that his mother thinks I am. I want to have open eyes, an open heart, a joyous mind, and a name as perfect as his. I want to be just like Happy, the boy that taught me to be thankful for those little moments. I love China, I love Happy, I love the woman on the bus, I love traveling to church, and I love the opportunity we have to change each day of our lives.
Some pictures from my trip to Nanjing this weekend.