Today, as I was saying goodbye to the staff and my Shanghai office, I discovered to my great horror that I had an impulse to hug everyone.
Perhaps I should explain. For my entire life, I have never been a hugging person. I detest people that hug. The whole practice is a repellent to me. Even hugging my own mother has always worried me somehow.
I think that I must have spent a number of lifetimes in Japan. I feel reasonably certain of this, because for many, many years, my whole attitude towards people has been that we should bow formally with our hands at our sides whenever we wish to express any kind of affection whatsoever. People who hug scare me. When they come at me, I get nervous and sweaty. I want to run the other way.
So discovering that I had this impulse to hug people blew my freaking mind.
It was organic. It was intimate. I actually wanted to do it, which is so contrary to my natural impulses of the past that none of it made any sense.
I suppose this goes to show that work can change us. It can soften us. We can become a little more human, a little less reserved.
Maybe this steel skin that we all wear can slough off a bit.
I am leaving China to return to the United States today. I remarked to a close friend in e-mail earlier today that the time spent here has felt like a journey through an eternity of time, and across vast, immeasurable spaces. Life itself begins to feel like a caravan moving through the desert, through landscapes that change one forever, so that when one emerges on the other side, it is as though everything that went before it died, and as though a new life is beginning.
May we all begin a new life together now, and every day. Much love to you all, whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing.
May your trees bear fruit, and your wells yield water.