Letting Go

153/365: Ice ShadowIce Shadow/153/Nikon D7000/Hou Hai/Beijing/China

195/365: Ditan Men KouDitan Men Kou/195/Nikon FE2/50mm/Ilford Delta 3200/Ditan Park/Beijing/China

110/365 Jiu Zhai Gou LakesJiu Zhai Gou Lakes/110/Nikon D7000/Jiu Zhai Gou/Sichuan/China

109/365: Jiu Zhai Gou Falls 1Jiu Zhai Gou Falls 1/109/Nikon D7000/Jiu Zhai Gou/Sichuan/China

200/365: goodbye

goodbye/200/Nikon FE2/Fuji Superia 400/50mm/Wukesong Camera Market/Beijing/China

This last week I was in Guangzhou with John, a fellow Fogarty Scholar working in Guangzhou. It’d been eight months since I’ve last seen and met the man, and it was an amazing experience getting to know and glimpse a tiny picture of his life in the Pearl River Delta. In our hours of conversations though he asked me a tough question: what has been my greatest struggle while in China?

Thinking about this now and investing a little more thought into identifying my greatest struggle I believe it has to be learning to let go. I’ve found that one of the hardest things for me to do is to relinquish control and let things flow naturally. I need to solve things instantly, I need to have the answer now, and I need results now. I must have instant satisfaction. I fear that without this control my anxiety will strangle me and leave me unable to operate or breathe.

But, ironically, I find that the more I try to exercise control over uncontrollable situations I feel even more stressed, more strained, and unable to sleep. I have found myself paralyzed by this inability to solve certain challenges or dealing with the frustrations of countless attempts to take control with no progress.

China has taught me about my limits and to accept them. To understand when I’ve done everything I can in a situation and relax. In the last two weeks, I’ve encountered so many challenges that revolve around this necessity to let go, move forward, and stop stagnation. From IRB nightmares right before the initiation of my study, to the death of my computer, and trying to move on from a past love. Constantly fretting over these and other issues, I couldn’t live the way I wanted to live. My mind felt like it was racing from crisis to crisis, with little more I could do to alter the problem. I had to let go. I knew if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to continue to function. I let forces continue on their way, and as it stands now, my self-perceived crises are either resolved or resolving. My study is complete with IRB approval. Preliminary results are showing very interesting findings, consistent with many of my initial hypotheses. My dead computer is being revived by the Geniuses’ Magic at the Apple store at no charge and with a backup I can begin to rebuild. And, while I am not fully over Jennifer, things are getting better slowly as I find my own independence.

The last 9 days in Guangzhou were nothing but spectacular. You couldn’t plan a better trip. I didn’t have anything prepared when I arrived in Guangzhou. My study was an outstanding success with 105 women recruited. I went to Macau and ate seven or eight of the most amazing egg tarts from different shops around the peninsula. I had lunch with an old friend in Hong Kong, someone I thought I’d never see again. Bought 3 rare unique rolls of 135 film at the biggest film collection store in the world, FilMe. Got a hilariously awkward life story that I will tell people for the rest of my life at a 24hr spa in Shenzhen. And, most of all I met and made wonderful friends that I won’t ever forget and I hope to see one day in the future. It was an exercise in focusing on the present, and I loved every second.

Thanks again John. Check out his excellent blog full of wonderful photography here!

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