June 25, 2009

Learning to Fly and How to be Rude in China

Our number of flying expeditions having increased exponentially in the last four months, we had plenty of time to think about flying. Or rather, I (Jess) have been thinking about it and reflecting to James. I have come to the startling realization that I am actually part of the crowd that really dislikes flying. I dislike everything about it. Going through thousands of lineups (where some Chinese man is inevitably trying to cut you out of line with his gigantor pile of luggage) in crowded, massive airports. The waiting and the taxiing. The feeling of the plane being tossed around as it takes off. The turbulence and sudden drops where your stomach hits your throat. The dryness of eyes and throat because of all the air vents going. Coming down for landing (especially yesterday in Chengdu where it was so cloudy and smoggy that even though I knew we were descending, I couldn't see the ground until our wheels hit the landing strip). The jolt of hitting the ground and feeling of the powerful, forward motion of the plane resisting its sudden stop.

I shouldn't be too surprised at this revelation, since I uniformly dislike any kind of sport that sends me flying in a forward motion down hills, on ice or on wheels. I love all sports except those.

I'm not complaining, but since we can expect to be flying fairly frequently here, I have to at least learn to pretend that I don't mind it. And so I keep my look of nonchalance as my mind ponders the fact that I am rocketing through the atmosphere in a strange column over land and sea, mountain and valley, through storm or calm. I admit that it does not help to hear about all the crashes and missing planes as of late, or having a Chinese acquaintance that loves to tell me about malfunctioning Chinese transportation and all their ensuing fires and terrible endings.

But I was fairly proud of myself yesterday as I flew to and from Chengdu. Flying always reminds me of how humans are like grass, here one day and gone the next, and that my fragile life is in the hands of this too powerful machine. But strangely enough, thinking of myself as grass is terribly comforting, because it also reminds me that God is eternal and that his power and his glory will continue to exist, regardless of my grass-like existence. On the plane yesterday, I became strangely grateful that this little piece of grass is known and loved by Jesus and knows and loves him in return. My heart still skipped a beat during the turbulence that tossed us to and fro and threw me off balance in the bathroom. But a prevailing calm was also there from the knowledge that I am not as important as I think I am, but at the same time more valuable than I know.

How's that for philosophical? We haven't had too many of those on this blog!

In other knews, I learned another valuable lesson recently. I learned that I need to learn how to be rude in a way that is acceptable in China and unacceptable in Canada. When trying to find a taxi yesterday in Chengdu, we waited for at least 15 minutes (an unheard of wait, since you can usually wave your pinky finger and have 10 waiting at a moments notice). When one finally came a strange woman ran forward to try and grab the taxi before we could. My much swifter traveling companion managed to grab the door half a second before she did and I practically threw myself into the taxi before she could do it herself. As we pulled away, I informed the other MCCer that he had received quite a pouty glare from the woman with flashy high heels and sparkling beaded bag. Since we had clearly marked that corner as ours, and were clearly in the right, we had us a little chuckle as we drove away. Would people do this in Canada? Only if they are VERY rude!

The second learning incident was when I took Ari and Jude to the pool the other night. The wading pool and the adult pool are divided by a two foot divider. Ari was in a pool ring, so that I didn't have to worry as much about him, but I had to follow Jude around like a stalker. There was a woman in the adult pool who was so enthralled with Ari that she was trying to convince him to come over the divide into her pool. I had to yell across the pool to instruct Ari not to go. The woman heard me but was practically grabbing him to come over. I literally had to tell her "He is not going with you. He is staying in this pool" and motion to her that I wanted her to leave him alone. This happened three times! On a side note, I was very proud of Ari. He listened very well and turned away from her and ignored her. But I felt like slugging her pretty good for trying to undermine a mother's right to protect her child! Again this would not happen in Canada. I felt very, very rude but I wasn't about to let that happen.

Lessons, lessons, everyday there are more!

1 comment:

derrydown said...

It is hard to learn culturally appropriate rudeness! You're tough, Jess! Thinking of sports, I cannot play any sport that involves an airborne object which I must aim for, catch, or hit. I don't think that includes airplanes!