Xie Xie

I love to write.

My real passion, however, is thinking. My friends say I am ‘intellectually curious.’ I don’t know about the intellectual part but the curious is right. I find the world to be a totally fascinating place.

And people? How can you get any more fascinating that that? Every person I have ever met in my 60 years on this earth has proven to be a little universe of fascination. You just have to be open to seeing it.

And once you are open to it, and once you learn to receive it, process it, and then proceed to really think about it, you too will be fascinated by whatever life you live.

Which brings me back to writing. Language is but a medium of symbols designed to facilitate communication. And because it is thus by necessity so imprecise, it forces you to really think through what you want to say before you say it.

I write this blog for many reasons. Yes, I’d like to think that in some small way I am helping to bridge understanding between east and west. God knows we can use it. It’s sometimes hard to believe that so many world leaders are really living on the same planet as I am.

And I do it because I am just totally fascinated by China – the people; the food; the culture; the physical environment; the sheer intensity of the pace of change that literally engulfs the place.

I’ve paid a price to be sure. My marriage dissolved here although in the end I think that would have happened wherever I might have been. China just brought to the surface the tensions that would have been easier to hide in my home country.

But if you’re going to write, you ultimately want someone to read it. For Freudian reasons of course. Something to do with the id or some such thing. I love the guy -Freud, that is – but he wasn’t exactly a Confucian.

But that’s like saying you live to breathe. Sure, the two go hand in hand. But as the Chinese have taught me, two things can be concurrent without defining each other.

So, yes, deep down I am like every other writer. I want someone to say, “I wish I had written that.”

But I also want my readers to share the passion for discovery that writing is for me. I want you to taste the joy that comes from thinking in the same way you enjoy the first bite of your favorite food.

And, of course, as Freud would have predicted, I fully expected that my joy would be contagious and that I would soon grace the cover of Time or Newsweek, in silhouette, of course, with the caption, “The blogger nobody knows but Sinologists are listening to.”

And of course it didn’t quite work out that way. It seldom does. When I first started my blog I didn’t hesitate to turn on the subscriber counter knowing in my heart that it would be a blur of ascension in the days and weeks ahead.

And after the first month it was stuck at 3. Yes, 3! Pitiful, right? And I was one of them and I knew the other two. (Although I have to say that I had to badger them to actually register. My friends, mind you.)

But I kept writing. And learning. And discovering. And having the time of my life.

And little by little the number of subscribers grew. I don’t know who you are but I know how many of you there are.

And today the number of subscribers exceeded 1,000 for the first time. Still small potatoes, by blogging standards, but 1,000 points of great satisfaction for me.

Thank you. Beyond that I am at a loss for words to express my gratitude.

I also have written two literary novels, called The Message? and The Bomb Shelter that will hit the shelves in paperback in the next month or two. They are written under the pen name, Avam Hale, an anagram of the names of my two daughters.

And I’m writing a non-fiction book with the working title, Understanding China – There is reason for the difference. I hope to have it available in paperback later this year and just may publish it under my real name, depending on my boss’ reaction.

And I have all of you to thank. I never would have found the energy to keep going without your encouragement and support.

Thanks, again.

Glassmaker in China
Beijing, China

I wake up every day eager to learn. When I was a young boy, before going off to bed my father always asked, “What did you learn today?” If I said, “Nothing,” he would shake his head and say, “Then you wasted the day.” I live by that wisdom still today.  Unfortunately he died 41 years ago of malignant melanoma.  Today would have been his birthday.  No Chinese person would consider that a coincidence.