Greetings from Beijing

July 28, 2016

No, we did not get an influx of Chinese inmates. However, it does seem like we have adopted that city’s weather patterns. Due to a combination of 110 degree temps, an inversion layer, and smoke from several forest fires, we have the worst air quality since I have been here. So no workouts for now and staying indoors as much as possible! Praying for a giant thunderstorm!!

I had a fantastic visit with my two younger brothers – Paul and Steve – and my two sisters-in-law – Nicole and Angela. It has been a while since all of us were together and it was a very special and fun visit! Paul and Nicole are regular visitors as they only live 90 miles away but Steve and Angela drove seven hours each way to visit! Awesome! I am so grateful to have each of them in my life!!

I think I mentioned I have been taking a poetry class. Over the last few months, we have covered everything from ancient Chinese poetry to modern poetry. We recently read the poems of Pablo Neruda; a Pulitzer Prize winning poet from Chile. He is one of my favorites so far and one poem in particular really spoke to me given the nasty political campaign to which we are currently being subjected. The poem is below and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I also had the great pleasure of seeing the film “Il Postino” – a small Italian film about Neruda living on a small Italian island after being banned from Chile. A beautiful film! Right up my alley!

Too Many Names

Monday is tangled up with Tuesday
and the week with the year:
time can’t be cut
with your tired scissors,
and all the names of the day
are rubbed out by the water of the night.

No one can be named Pedro,
no one is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain in the rain.
They have talked to me of Venezuelas,
of Paraguays and Chiles,
I don’t know wha they are talking about:
I’m aware of the Earth’s skin
and I know that it doesn’t have a name.

When I lived with the roots
I liked them more with the flowers,
and when I talked with a stone
it rang like a bell.

The spring is so long
that it lasts all winter:
time lost its shoes:
a year contains four centuries.

When I sleep all these nights,
what am I named or not named?
And when I wake up who am I
if I wasn’t I when I slept?

This means that we have barely
disembarked into life,
that we’ve only just now been born,
let’s not fill our mouths
with so many uncertain names,
with so many sad labels,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much yours and mine,
with so much signing of papers.

I intend to confuse things,
to unite them, make them new-born,
intermingle them, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the unity of the ocean,
a generous wholeness,
a fragrance alive and crackling.

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