Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are undertaking the first experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered the world for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.
There is much about life, loss, discovery, and adversity I have been wanting to write. I have sat at this computer intermittently for the last 5 days, and I have just admitted to myself that it’s not going to happen. I am thankful to everyone who has supported me in all my endeavors; especially my Grandma who was always a source of comfort, inspiration, and joy. You will be missed. I’ll let these quotations speak the rest for me this time.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Elliot
Chinese New Year provided a wonderful hiatus from teaching. I was able to visit the Wulingyuan National Forest, also known as the Avatar Mountains. It was a beautiful, adventurous, and reminiscent experience. I finally made my back to a sleeper train, albeit only for 9 hours. It brought back memories and comfort only to be found when your not really anywhere. I met three fellow travelers studying in China. One was from Kazakhstan! The two days following our meeting consisted of discussions on all things Kazakh: food, sports, culture; Russians. This was the first time I really ventured into China and it wasn’t a disappointment. I was inspired to really attack my Chinese studying and motivated to plan future excursions and my exploration through China back to Kazakhstan in the summer. The park was breathtakingly beautiful. I am thinking about investing in a worthwhile camera so I can eventually capture more of my experiences. I hope you can get the idea from these. (I also stole a bunch from some a friend so I’m thankful for that as well.