Three years ago today I was sitting on the crumbling ledge of The Great Wall. While sitting there gazing over the mountains I first realized just how small I am and how vast this world is. This was an ironic understanding because just the day before I purchased a men's XXL jacket for myself in a Beijing market. I created quite a spectacle because the shop clerks apparently had never seen a woman such as I trying on men's clothing and quickly retrieved their cellphones to take a picture of me in this men's XXL jacket! Augh! I still have the jacket even though the zipper broke a few days after I bought it.
The day I climbed The Great Wall was one of the best days in my life. Whenever my world begins to crowd in and stifle my perspective I remember the afternoon I sat on this ridge and gratefully take a breath.
On this day three years ago I spent six hours wandering through The Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Ten years earlier I saw a National Geographic article on this alluring place and I dreamed of one day visiting this amazing setting. It is said that if you slept one night in each room of the Forbidden City it would take twenty-seven years to sleep in every room. This is one of the last rooms I found near the end of the day. I was all by myself as I watched the wind pick up the leaves and throw them across the courtyard. One of the few places in China where time has stood still.
This is one of my favourite quirky spots in London, England. The top floor of Victoria Station- sitting at a Wetherspoon's drinking a cider- watching the intersection of the world dash by. One of my dearest memories I recall was one afternoon we were lazily gazing at the stream of humanity pouring by when a special BBC announcement appeared on a big screen above the escalators. The announcement read, "Briton, Norman Kember and Two Fellow Canadian Hostages Freed in Iraq -James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden". When we saw these names appear on the screen we jumped up and shouted a spontaneous cheer, embraced one another and wept. Somehow it felt that much more poignant that we heard this news outside our country.Maybe because we feel just a little more vulnerable than we care to admit when we travel abroad. Maybe because so many predicted the slim odds of finding these men alive. An unexpected joy in an unexpected place.