SO CLOSE YET SO FAR AWAY.
Next year, it will be Thirty Years. So much has happened since I traveled ALL THE WALL yet--I never miss even one day thinking about my Great Wall Journey. There’s an old saying that says “You can never go back” but I translate those words to mean “You can never go back”---If you expect things to be exactly as they were the last time. I have no-such expectations.
In my book, THE BEAUTY QUEEN, I share how my Great Wall Journey changed me for life. I wrote:
“ The more I mature, the less I allow ugliness from my past to invade my present. Instead, I block-out the ugliness with memorable moments.
My Great Wall remembrances are never far away—they find me when I’m sitting in traffic, walking by the fast-moving river, or watching smoke-trails from a high-flying jet. The Wall is with me when I smell wetness on mossy rocks, or hike through frost-covered grass. My memories often consume me and, like stepping into cold rain on a scorching hot day, my body shivers with anticipation.
I close my eyes and--in an instant--I’m back on The Great Wall. Those are the times I can touch the wind, hear the silence, and share aloneness—all under a brilliantly blue- open-parasol sky—that speaks only Chinese.
I share those moments with tears filling my eyes, running down my face, dripping from my chin....and I don’t stop them. Tears are my evidence. Tears are emotional reminders that--Yes, I was really there.
The magic comes from knowing my—“Once upon a time” began long ago---with a nine year old girl, a teacher, a geography book…and a Dream.
Someday, only God knows when, I’ll be back with my old friend, The Great Wall of China. This time, I’ll never leave”.
Realizing thirty years is a significant milestone…I feel the importance of visiting my old friend just one last time before I’m laid to rest within it. Just one more time I need to feel its familiar closeness, touch its monumental greatness, sense its ancient and all-consuming reverence, all-around me. Yes…I need this.
AND….while I’m in China…I want to cross the border into N. Korea and see the Hushan section of The Great Wall from “the other side”. Standing on The Great Wall at Dandong in China’s eastern-most section of The Great Wall…I looked across the Yalu River and saw North Korean farmers working their fields. I also saw a guard station nearby and knew the farmers couldn’t respond if I waved to them. So--
I’ll be requesting permission from North Korea’s leader--- with China's help--- to visit North Korea to see THE GREAT WALL as North Koreans see it, to take some photos, and—hopefully—visit some educational facilities while there.
I believe that, as we mature, it won’t be the things we did that we’ll regret--- nearly as much as---- all the things we wanted to do but---never did.
Please Stay Close,