“Meeting a stranger can be totally fleeting and meaningless, for example, unless you enter the individual’s world by finding out at least one thing that is meaningful to his or her life and exchange at least one genuine feeling. Tuning in to others is a circular flow: you send yourself out toward people; you receive them as they respond to you.”
In one of my first blog posts, I wrote about the tapestry of experiences that my family and I are creating as we have been living overseas now for 15 years. Each country has added to this enormous experience and our latest threads have been woven in lovely Nanjing, China. It’s been nearly four years now since we arrived in China. Like everything with it’s impermanence, our lives and our narratives flow up and down.
Sometime around the spring of 2013, during my morning runs, I would often cross paths with a much older Chinese man. At first sight I was always very interested in this man because he would be power walking along the same route, up and down a long street, sporting nothing but shorts and a bronzed glow of a tan. I was very curious about him, but would just run past nodding casually, and then continue on my jog.
At some point we began waving and saying hello. It became a sort of ritual to see him at the same spot during my runs. If he didn’t show up, I’d finish my runs wondering what happened. I would think was he sick or did he change his schedule.
I hadn’t seen him for quite some time, but a while after that while walking home from school, I saw him. I was determined to ask him his name so I went up to him to chat. Surprisingly he spoke English and his name was Alian Wong. As we talked, I learned a little bit more about him. He was born in 1930 and it turns out he has walked 7.5 kilometers every day for the past 30 years. He not only spoke English and Chinese but Russian too. He spends his time between Russia and Nanjing.
It had been a while since I last saw him, but today as my husband and I were walking our dog, I saw him again. I was so excited I bolted over to him to say hello. How nice it was to see him again after such a long hiatus.
In our past chats, he has shared that he walks to clear his mind and stay active. He made me aware that his practice of walking is good for his mind. The action that Alian takes each day is very mindful in nature. It reminds me of the importance of mindful walking. Being aware of each step we take, how we place our feet with every stride, and how we connect our breath to these movements. Although Alian and I never spoke about mindfulness, I truly believe that he exemplifies mindful walking every time he steps out of his house to begin his ritual of daily power walking.
I’m happy to have connected with him and look at moments like this being, as Deepak Chopra says in the quote above, “circular flow”. The importance of finding meaning in exchanges like this can be so special without ever really realizing it.
Meeting up with Alian Wong again today inspired me to set my #MindsetMonday challenge this week on devoting more time to mindful walking. I plan to take any free moments at school this week to mindfully walk around the running track to clear my mind and re-energize myself during the busy day. I look forward to this challenge.
'Strive to stay active, breathe, and clear your mind this week with a mindful walk.'
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily