Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: October 2011

The Cost of Introversion

Introvert recharging batteries

There is only one week to go until Hallowe’en. Hallowe’en isn’t a Chinese thing nor is it a celebration that we care for even in Canada. We do buy the treats to hand out in our town as it would be a faux pas for the retired principal to not do his part to maintain social events.

We are getting tired as we have picked up another teaching gig in order to help our university gain even more status. We had been asked to teach a few times a week at a prestigious elementary school, the one that several of the college deans have their children attend. I have been giving it my best efforts, however I just don’t enjoy teaching grade 4 and 5 students. Still, the experience pays more per teaching hour than I get at the university. To be asked to do this is a high honour which none of the other foreign teachers have been asked to do.

As I said, we are getting tired. We need a holiday. We didn’t get to have the usual National Day holiday of several days, a time when we usually travel. In the past, we visited Beijing 2006, Xi’an 2007, and went to Chongqing 2010 via a cruise through the Three Gorges along the Yangtze River. Our social life has been limited as well. We are not in the “in crowd” with our foreign teacher colleagues. And, I think that has a lot to do with my withdrawal from trying to be extroverted.

I am an introvert, and as such I need to withdraw in order to have enough energy to cope with a busy outer world. The cost involved in recharging my energy levels usually comes at the expense of engagement with others.

The Gift of Acceptance

Bathed by noon sunlight

It’s Monday afternoon and I have finished my two morning classes and I don’t have another class to teach until tomorrow morning. I teach sixteen classes each week, just slightly more than my Chinese colleagues, but less than the other foreign teachers. Americans make up most of the other foreign teachers with a couple from Australia added into the mix. The Australians live across the hall from us in our old apartment. My wife and I are the example that is always held up to the other foreign teachers about how it is all supposed to be done. Staff turnover is almost 100% every year. The only exception is one young man who came partway through the year last year.

But, this post isn’t about foreign teachers. When My wife got back from her class, she saw me meditating in the spare bedroom on the upper level. Without disturbing me, she took this photo. She knows that meditation is vital to my well being, and she knows that I meditate while nude. This photo was an implicit acceptance of that. And that acceptance means everything to me.

The Shadow Acting Up

Did I really do this?

While she was teaching an afternoon class, I went for a walk to a small park about a half-hour from our place. It’s a Friday afternoon and I was surprised that the park appeared to be abandoned. All the other parks we have visited are always busy with people. This park didn’t look as well taken care of as the others. Seeing a few small paths through bushy garden areas, I did the unthinkable. I got naked outdoors in a large Chinese city.

I took images in three different locations and then hastily got my clothes back on. Public nudity? In China? I knew that this was an irrational act on my part. I also knew that I wasn’t going to be seen, but that really isn’t the point. I mean, I have never been nude in Canada in a public space. Nudity on wild prairie hills far from any town or city is one thing, but this was something else. Needless to say, now that it is done and I am back in the apartment waiting for my wife to come home, I have time to wonder about it.

I have to admit that there was a rush, a quickening of my pulse when I stripped off to take this photo. Was I wanting to get caught and have China deal with me? If so, why? If not, why did I even think of it? I mean, I wouldn’t do this at home in Canada. Questions that have no answer. What I do know is that there is some unconscious impulses that are being acted upon. The veil between the unconscious contents and my ego is very thin. I will have to be very careful in the future. The last thing I want to do is to ruin our reputation here in China and have to leave in shame.

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