I think it is not too greedy that I wrote down two items on my wish list at the beginning of the year. The first was to be more honest, both to myself and others. The other was to take action if I really want something; I need to turn more blueprints of the mind into results. Now that we've passed the halfway point, I can say I am doing well. I meditated in Hangzhou for four days. Insomnia left, and I found a more peaceful mind, as a result of being more honest to myself.
What about the other wish? After I finished writing down my resolutions, I considered how I could achieve the second one—what actions I could take. The first was to make a few calls to my friends to see if I could help some of these small groups that I already had connections—through my friends—to. I called to see if I could help organizations serving AIDS patients and Down's Syndrome patients. Then I wrote to CHENGDOO to see if I could continue writing for the magazine. Now I am picking up the pen after a gap of five years. The last big action on my list was launched in January: a reading club.
Reading has long been my most beloved hobby. I remembered buying books in stores by the statue of Chairman Mao when I was in high school, almost 15 years ago. Sanmao and Murakami Haruki were on my list. Majoring in literature and culture, I was exposed to a sea of great minds. Seven years in university only whetted my thirst for reading. The club is called Shepherd's Reading Club, a name inspired by Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. This little book sort of enlightened me with a new perspective on life. Similarly, I hoped this small club can bring new ideas to people as the book did for me. Things went quite smoothly. I quickly completed a small pamphlet stating the motif, schemes, where and when to meet, and so on. Surprisingly it was quite welcome among my friends from the very beginning. It turns out that some people love reading as much as I do, and they want to talk and share. They want something more serious than sheer entertainment. They want to think—at least sometimes.
On the last Sunday afternoon of every month, we gather in a selected café. Members take turns being the host for the evening, bringing his or her insight and perspectives to the discussion and generally leading the discussion. None of us are really in academic circles, so we discuss cooperatively rather than lecture and listen. As a platform of communication, the focus lies on discussion, question-and-answer, arguments, comments, agreements, and so on. People come with questions and leave with more questions. The topics are chosen three months in advance by the host and myself, in order to give everyone time to read the reference materials about the topic.
The topic for the end of May was "About the City." I was the host; part of my self-assigned homework for this year was to study the city. With a professional background in real-estate consulting, I wanted to know more about city and where it comes and goes for my personal interest. For the club's meeting, I started with the reasons I chose the topic. (I am an active observer. I am given training from my job. The trip to Hangzhou triggered me to think about cities.) Then we moved to the definition of the city, key words of Chengdu, and the comparison between cities. It may sound boring to some people. But it is nice for me to even just think about this idea that there are some people caring about the city and development and related and more serious topics concerning self, change, mind, body, psychology. To put it simply, it excites me to explore the self and the world with books and peers.
I don't know the direction the flub will take. But it has become something I am eager to maintain and make better.
Tan Juan is a native Chengduer who wrote for CHENGDOO as an undergraduate student in 2007 to 2008 and has recently started her new column on personal reflections as a post-80s Chengdunese.