Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yin and Yang (otherwise known as "this balance thing is driving me crazy")

Westerners call it "Yin and Yang". The Chinese simply call it "Yin Yang". Either way I learned last week what the concept is, and how it applies to the billions here.

Two weeks ago I left for the Chinese Nationals. I really didn't know what to expect, but I DID know that this is the biggest meet of this part of the season, and that it was important. Upon arrival, I learned that instead of me choosing where to eat, what time to leave the hotel, and what time to be at the pool each day (VERY important things needed for success), that I actually had NO say at all. Every team was in the same hotel, ate the same meals, and rode the same buses to the pool. This was indeed different for me, so I tried my best to adjust. The first day of the competition as I sat on the bus with my team and my translator, I realized that we were in NO hurry to leave. Ten minutes turned to twenty, and NOW I'm getting frustrated because I my team is missing the warmups, a CRUCIAL part of their success! I sat there steaming and biting my tongue, as no one else seemed to care at all. My translator sensed my frustration, and later that night gave me a valuable lesson in Chinese culture. I won't elaborate on our 5 hour conversation into the wee hours, but he did give me insight to the principle of which Chinese culture is based- The Yin and Yang concept.

I didn't really know what Y & Y was, I had just seen the logo on t-shirts, and knew it was kinda cool looking. But Scottie explained to me it's meaning, and how it impacts the Chinese people. Basically, Y & Y is the concept that everything in the world is balanced by forces that are seemingly contrary to one another, but at the same time interconnect to provide "balance". Y & Y constantly interacts with each other, so there is never any absolute stasis (a bit deep I know). Good and Evil, Night and Day, Right and Wrong. This all explained my experiences at Nationals-the bus drivers being in no hurry, the meet officials never showing any urgency to run an efficient meet, and no one in any worry that anything was going to go wrong-it's all part of the Chinese way. Now those of you that know me know that I am NOT a Yin-Yang kinda guy. I have always led a life of rules, timelines, and schedules which has in turn helped me get to where I am today. But I realized that after watching all this behavior for 8 days that I wasn't about to change anything anytime soon. During my upcoming competition, I hope to breathe a bit deeper, and just take things in rather to let my blood pressure spike because my swimmer missed an event. After all, it's just Yin Yang, right? But the concept has ONE flaw: if something does go wrong regarding the swimming aspect, guess who's fault it is? Man, ain't Asian thinking wonderful?

I went on a run last week, and was waved down by a bespectacled Chinese man. I stopped and he proceeded to speak English. "You the new American swim coach?" I was surprised, as I wasn't used to hearing English unless I'm out with other ex-pats or am watching my TV. I said I was, and he asked "So are you homesick yet?". It was interesting, but without even thinking about it, I said "No". After we chatted for a few minutes, I continued on my way and really thought about his question. I think most people after 30 days away from home (especially halfway across the globe) may have thought otherwise. But I have really worked hard to keep some balance here (hmm, the Yin Yang at work maybe?). I really enjoy my time coaching each day, and enjoy the other times I talk with my friends on Facebook or Skype. The weekend really makes it great as I spent all night meeting new friends, and speaking English all night long! So I think as long as this balance exists, I will be fine...

Other recent notables:
- I got my first Chinese haircut last week at a place recommended by my Ex-Pat friends, a hotel downtown that had an English speaking hairstylist. So I went to the hotel, had a nice Caffe Mocha from Starbucks next door, and went to the haircut. A decent cut, a nice shave with a straight-edge razor (a first!), and a nice hot towel on the face...all for a whopping $6 including tip. Too good to be true!
- This weekend is Labor Day (actually, Labor DAYS as it is 3 days long). Everything is closed, and fireworks went off for 24 hours straight (no kidding, non-stop!). Man, I know in the States we get a lot of good fireworks from China, but they keep the REALLY good stuff here!
-Went out Friday night to meet up with the Ex-Pats. What started out as some dinner and casual conversation ended up being dragged around downtown Nanjing crawling to every pub possible. I had a great time, saw some new parts of the City, and got to walk into my apartment at 7am Saturday! OUCH...
- It got up to 90 degrees here today with 100% humidity. Ugh!
- Watched Cannonball Run 2 this weekend on Asian HBO. Man, they have great taste here, who could possibly not like Dom Delouise?

I leave in 1 week for another competition, this one 10 days long. The meets here are WAY too long, perhaps I should talk to someone about this. Maybe not. I will try to get in 1 more post before then!

Have a good one!

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