When we returned home about three weeks ago, I optimistically thought this post would go up shortly after. But the photos sat untouched in my camera's memory card for a long while before I finally sorted through them last weekend. "What's the rush?", I kept thinking.
There's this change in mentality, a shift in perception that happens when you spend an extended period of time seeing how people who are unlike you live. I was immersed in a culture that cares deeply about food, every meal was a feast with everyone around the table. I learned what the meaning of family really is, we were constantly welcomed and fed by relatives so far removed that I couldn't even get the relationship straight (my eldest aunt's husband's sister's son?). I came back questioning the meaningless stress of our fast paced lives. Seeing people with far fewer material possessions live much simpler and happier lives really makes you reevaluate your own existence. I'm trying to be more zen about life these days, doing things at their natural pace and taking time for self reflection. It's the healthy thing to do.
We started our journey in Beijing, landing on new year's eve and immediately eating a celebratory holiday dinner. One of the items on the table that night was a whole fish meant only for viewing, not for eating, a "look fish" as everyone called it. This would be the first of many rituals we partook in for good luck and good fortune. After spending barely enough days there to recover from the jetlag, we hopped on a train to my mom's hometown of Tianmen.