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Fear

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
The following is the author's description of t...

The following is the author’s description of the photograph quoted directly from the photograph’s Flickr page. “Blue Chicago ” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After one day of a perfect calm surface for swimming, choppy waves flared up at my favorite beach in Lake Michigan again this morning. I measured the length and strength of the waves with my eyes when I arrived at the beach and decided to give it a try. After all, I was already there.

It was not the first time I toyed with the waves. Last week, three out of the seven days I encountered choppy water, though didn’t feel threatened (I did go to a more sheltered beach to swim one day.) I knew and fully respect the formidable power of the Lake and swam closer to shore. I was prepared to reach land with one strong kick if I got chocked with a strong tide. While I concentrated on my strokes and speed during calm days, I focused on the ups and downs of the waves in times like this. Occasionally I’d swallowed a mouthful of murky water. However, if I stayed calm—not let the fear of being crushed by a sudden wave overwhelm me, I could maneuver my way quite well.

“You are an hero,” an older man said, raising his thumb at me when he walked by the shower facility on shore where I was rinsing.

I laughed, telling him I’m an idiot flirting with the power of nature. I certainly had no intention to be an hero.

I knew the rest of the day I’d feel the motion of ups and downs as if I were still in the water. But I had no regret.

The season of swimming in the Lake is so short in Chicago, and the water has finally turned warm and comfortable. The joy of being in this body of live water and the energy I feel it gives to me make it worthwhile to keep at it every day.

Of course, there is always a sense of fear lurking in the back of my mind. Today, for some reason, that feeling was gnawing at me all the time.

The Portage Lake Michigan shore looking across...

The Portage Lake Michigan shore looking across the lake to the Chicago skyline. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I chickened out by turning back half way across the beach area. With a buffer from an infrastructure on one end, the waves at the north half of the beach appeared less choppy. I did four half rounds, conscious of the power of water trashing me up and down. I changed to breaststroke from time to time to get a better bearing of my location. As if to make matters worse, I noticed a couple of seagulls looming above, sometimes hanging dangerously low over me as if ready to attach me as their prey. Through my blurred goggles I could see their opened beaks. I turned to freestyle and made huge arm swings in an effort to keep them off.

Eventually the fear of waves and the birds made me retreat to a small, sheltered enclave. The water was much calmer here, but I had to make back and forth turns frequently as if in the confines of a pool.

I managed to do a total of 45 minutes. As I was riding my bike home on the sidewalk by Columbus Ave., I encounter a family of bikers coming my way. I moved to the right side and slowed down. A little girl, probably about 5 or 6, was riding beautifully in a straight line before she saw me. She panicked and zigzagged toward me when she found me moving toward her direction. I had to brake hard and jump off my bike to avoid her. I waved to calm her as she waggled by. I knew it was the same sense of fear that made her lose balance.

I had swum in more choppy waves in the Lake before. I was careful but not so fearful. Today I returned feeling somewhat defeated because I allowed that fear to dictate me.

How many times we don’t accomplish things we are capable of doing because we allow the external threat to compound with our inner fear? Confidence is certainly a major factor in success, whatever the undertaking.

Hope I’ll do better tomorrow, with or without the choppy waves.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film was on national PBS in May 2014.

 

 

 

Summer in Chicago

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Lakefront trail

Lakefront trail

Summer is always my most favorite season in Chicago. Besides all the outdoor concerts, sports venues, and other events, what I like to do most is biking along the lakefront trail or swimming in the Lake.

Biking always starts earlier. This year, I was out on the trail since late April when the air was still chilly and patches of snow were still blocking some segments of the trail. In less than a month, I watched the trees turn color, the leaves emerge, and all of a sudden, the budding flowers cover the entire trees with brilliant yellow, red, white, or pink. The long trail was filled with a sweet, intoxicating fragrance. Depending on the weather, I either rode my Trek hybrid, which has thicker tires, or my Cannondale road bike, light and fast.

Flowers in early spring

Flowers in early spring

I started noticing swimmers with wetsuits in the Lake in early June, at a stretch between Grand and Chicago Avenue. Despite the extra protection, I bet their exposed limbs and face would feel the bite of the icy water, like being stung by jellyfish. I admired and envied them, but stayed away. Then one day in mid June, I saw two men swimming in their regular swim trunks. “Yeah!” I hailed as I sped by on my bike.

I didn’t plunge in until late June. To my pleasant surprise, the water was not as cold as I expected, and I was able to swim for 45 minutes. I felt like kicking myself for not getting into the water earlier. But the warm water didn’t stay for long. The next day when I went back, I felt the change of temperature the moment I stepped in. It must be below 60 degrees. I managed to swim for 30 minutes and rushed back to take a long, hot shower. But I went to swim in the lake every day, enjoying the amazing energy the live water was able to give me. It is definitely worth the challenge of the cold.

For those of you who haven’t tried swimming in the lake, I strongly recommend taking a plunge. It’s magically refreshing and energizing. I hope you’ll love the experience as much as I. So blessed to have the vast lake nearby.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film was on national PBS in May, 2014.

 

A new perspective on Lake Michigan

Thursday, August 15th, 2013
English: Chicago Lake front bike trail

English: Chicago Lake front bike trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been riding my bike along the lakefront trail in Chicago for the last seven years from spring to late fall, averaging about 60 miles or so a week. I marvel at the brilliant reflection of sunrise on the lake, the green, gray or blue color of the water each time I take a look from a different angle or location, and the rocks and beaches along the lake that receive the thrashing water as if eager to embrace it.

It was not about a month ago that I began swimming in the lake that I got a different perspective on it.

One experience in Lake Michigan back in 2007 when I was doing a writer’s residency at Ragdale in Lake Forest shunned me away from the lake until recently. I remember joining a couple of fellow writers to swim in lake. It was a hot summer. During the July 4th weekend when I was there, temperature reached 91 degrees. I was taken by surprise by the icy cold water. I kicked and pushed as hard as I could but couldn’t stop shivering. I ran out of the lake in less than 20 minutes and never ventured back again.

English: Map of Lake Michigan. Category:Michig...

English: Map of Lake Michigan. Category:Michigan maps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A friend of mine recently told me how much he enjoyed an early morning swim in the lake, saying the water was warm. A lover of outdoor activities, I decided to give it another try. How glad I was when I realized what he said was true: the water was warm and nice. More, the lake water seems to have so much more vigor and life that I felt energized ten times more compared to my swimming in the heated pool of my building. I was immediately hooked and went back to the lake the next day and the next.

I was lucky that my first couple of days in the lake the water was calm and warm. On my third day, the lake turned choppy, but I managed doing my route, finding it challenging but fun. I got bolder and dived into the lake the following day when a stronger wind created waves in the water. I got disoriented twice and felt as if I was rocking with waves the rest of the day when I was working at my desk. I got a taste of the power of the lake.

Since then, when I ride my bike first thing in the morning along the trail, I begin to pay attention to the movement of the water in the lake. The peaceful ripples feel like an invitation to the lake, and the choppy churning, a warning. When waves push one after another until they crash forcefully on the shore, I know better not to step into the water.

It takes a lot more concentration and strength swimming in the lake. I’ve learned to flow with the waves, cautious and sometimes a little fearful; I’ve learned to appreciate the calmness when I can do backstroke; and I’ve learned not to panic when I chock on a gush of water. Wearing a pair of goggles, I look down deep into the lake. On a day when the water is clear, I can see long stretching plants wavering in certain areas, and when the water murky, I sense the mystery and power underneath. Because I swim early in the morning, long before the lifeguard comes on duty, I’m always alert and welcome the sighting of another swimmer in the water or any jogger or cyclist on shore.

A guy by the name of Frank has become a familiar sight, but he swims way out at the edge of the circled swim area. I also get to know a gentleman named Larry, who, on a wavy day, volunteered as my lifeguard. There is a fisherman standing on the edge of a concrete platform every day. From a distance, he looks like a statue against the rising run, but provides me with a level of comfort nevertheless.

To touch the water, feel the power of the lake, and be energized by it certainly give me another perspective on the lake and a deeper level of appreciation and awe for it. Try swimming in the lake if you haven’t done so. You, like me, will realize what you have missed and will enjoy the wonder that the mighty lake provides.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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A stranger’s kindness

Friday, August 9th, 2013

beach 2

I ventured out to swim in the choppy water of Lake Michigan yesterday morning after a few minutes of hesitation. The wind was a bit strong, and the water, wavy and murky. When it crashed onto shore, white foam erupted and then receded, until the next wave hit again.

I knew it would be wise to leave, but I was there at the beach already, I heard a voice in my head arguing. I saw a comparatively less choppy area against the concrete wall on one side of the beach and decided to swim small loops in that area.

Usually there are two other people at the beach in the early mornings. One is a great swimmer who ventured all the way to the edge of safety mark, and other, usually sat on the stairs to the beach reading a newspaper or listening to his radio.

beach 1As I stood there trying to make a decision, I saw the strong swimmer came out of the water. He said he did one loop and was exhausted. He usually does four.
“The waves are too strong today,” he said.

I said hello to the man on the stairs before getting into the water and learned his name is Larry.

The sun was shining brightly despite the wind and the water was warm. A strong wave nearly knocked me down as I stepped into the lake. But I forged forward.

“Be careful,” I heard Larry say. “I’ll watch out for you.”

I thanked him, expecting him long gone before I finished swimming, as was the case over the last couple of weeks.

As I fought my way in the choppy water, I realized that Larry’s figure on shore became a source of security and comfort as I glanced toward shore to get my bearing of location from time to time. I must say that despite the high alertness of my mind to the potential danger, I enjoyed the adventure and challenge. Instead of free style, I did breaststroke most of the time so as to flow with the rising waves. For a while, I noticed Larry standing up and shielding one arm against the sun facing the lake.

I managed to swim for nearly 50 minutes. When I finally stumbled on shore, Larry was still there.

“For a while I couldn’t see you, I was concerned,” he said. He told me he used to be a competitive swimmer and didn’t want to leave me alone in the water.

I was very touched by his kindness and thanked him as he rushed away.

It reminded me of my bike rides along the lakefront trail. Many times fast bikers would give a warning shout passing from the left. Instead of the usual “On your left,” some would say “Good morning,” or “Thank you” instead, generating a totally different feeling.

A stranger’s kindness and polite gesture touched me deeply. I know I should follow their example in bringing a smile or a bit of comfort to others.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Happy Independence Day

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

English: Chicago Lake front bike trail

A glorious sunrise started this July 4th with the beauty of serenity. I looked at the golden beam in the sky above Lake Michigan and watched the American flag by the Field Museum—my indicator of the day’s weather by its waving in the air. It stood almost still early this morning, with a poise that was touching and peaceful.

I took it as a beckoning to get to the lakefront trail and celebrate this special day starting with a bike ride. There were people cycling, jogging and walking on the trail, and right behind the Field Museum, a variety of flowers in purple, yellow, pink, and red filled the air with a sweet fragrance and a vibration of life. I slowed down, taking in the smell and color.

“Happy July 4th,” a smartly dressed cyclist shouted as he passed on my left. It sounded so melodious to my ears than the usual “on your left” warning usually heard on the trail.

“Thank you,” I murmured after him, knowing he wouldn’t be able to hear me.

“Thank you,” I said again, this time louder into the air.

English: Chicago Lakefront Trail near Gold Coast

I remember the new meaning of the American flag to me right after 9/11. I was in Boston on a business trip when the attacks happened. With all the airports shut down, I rented a car and drove back to Chicago from Boston. What touched me most was the waving of American flags in front of so many residential and commercial buildings. That sense of defiance and patriotism were so deep and genuine that it put tears into my tears and made me feel proud to be part of this great country.

Today, as I speeded along the lakefront trail, enjoying the cool air, the ripples of waves on the lake, and peaceful surrounding, I felt ever more appreciative of the life this country had provided for us all.

Thank you, America, and happy July 4th, happy independence day!

 

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Chicago: Back to Normal

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Barricades at Roosevelt Ave.

The NATO Summit held in Chicago from Sunday, May 20th to Monday, May 21st got everyone nervous, with fear of terrorist attacks and chaos by demonstrations. Many sections of the highways and city streets were blocked and many people didn’t come to work in their downtown offices on Monday.

I came back from a trip to New York City last Friday and was prepared to spend the night in my new loft office, which is near a Blue Line subway station in the city. But the tranquility on the train eased my worries and I changed my mind and got on to a south bound Red Line train at Grand/Lake and walked on to Roosevelt Ave., where the road was supposed to blocked. It was right after 10 p.m., and I was surprised that, despite the heavy presence of police, the traffic was moving as usual. I got home without any problem.

Entrance to Museum Campus

Next day at about 5 p.m., the curiosity of a writer got over me. Against my husband Francis’ objection (coming all the way from China via Skype), I rode my bike out along the lakefront trail, armed with a camera. Overnight, all the barricades were up—concretes blocks, metal fences, and surprisingly, a long line of heavy-duty snowplows—stretched from Roosevelt Ave. all the way to the trails in Museum Campus and the Lake Michigan. It looked like a war zone!

The sidewalks were still open, however, so after some hesitation, I took off on my bike, moving carefully through the narrow metal gate to the Museum Park and headed—the south path, my usual route, leads to the back of the McCormick Place where the Summit meeting was to be held and was completely blocked.

Snowplows used as barricade!

It was a beautiful day, but the usually packed lakefront trail had few people. I had to carry my bike to a lower level by the lake to pass the snowplows that blocked not only Balbo St., Columbus Dr. and Lake Shore Dr., but also the trails and the lawn! As I continued north, however, more people appeared. The further I went, the more scenes of normal life in sight, with young people playing soccer, families relaxing by the beach, and pedestrians/joggers/bikers moving along the trail. I breathed a sign of relief and rode much further north than I intended.

I jogged along the same trail early Sunday morning. Besides the ugly roadblocks and the presence of more police, everything appeared peaceful. I ventured out of the lakefront trail and came up to the street at Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive. There were more people walking in black coats in the street than regular pedestrians, and groups of policemen were at many cross sections, mostly chatting among themselves. When I passed the Art Institute of Chicago where Obama was to host a dinner that evening, I saw more people, some wearing T-shirts with “Peace” printed in the front or back.

A restaurant on Michigan was all boarded up against potential damage.

“We are from Rockford,” I heard a young couple waving to two couple passing by.

“We are from Philadelphia!”

“All right!”

They cheered for one another and moved on. They must be protesters—thousands of them were expected during the Summit.

I watched the day’s events on TV and was relieved for the most part, the demonstration was peaceful.

Monday morning, I had to work on a presentation at my producer’s office in the Prudential building, which is next to Aon, a major site of demonstration. By the time I got there, my producer and his assistant Lana were both there and neither of them encountered any problem coming in, though the office building was quite empty.

Policemen in front of the Cultural Center

Most of the roadblocks were removed by 10 p.m. on Monday. On the news, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proudly praised Chicago’s police force, saying their conduct during the NATO Summit was a lesson of what should be done in such situation.

I recalled that during the day, I saw two tourists approach a group of police with a map in their hands. A policeman raised his hand with a gesture of “stop.” The two women froze in shock, only to see the armed policeman broke into a smile and beckoned them to come forward. They laughed and proceeded to ask for directions. I was impressed by the humor and warmth demonstrated by both sides.

As the news continued on TV, I suddenly heard the fainted humming of traffic from Columbus and Lake Shore Drive. I looked out from the window and saw all the roads were open. Opening the sliding door, I let the sound of the traffic came through. For the first time, it sounded like music to my ears.

Cheers, Chicago!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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September 11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011
”]Cover of "9/11 [Region 2]"

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since September 11—the day that defined the “before” and “after” and the words “9/11” became a phrase that is loaded with meaning and emotion.

I looked out of my apartment window early this morning, and was touched by the rising sun, with golden beams coming through a thin layer of scattered clouds. All the trees, in deep green, stood still, and the gusting wind that had swept the city of Chicago every day last week suddenly halted. It looked so beautiful and peaceful along the shore of Lake Michigan.

No one can take a day like this for granted after 9/11.

I clearly remember this day ten years ago. I had arrived at Boston from Chicago for a business trip the night before. A colleague was supposed to pick me up at 9 A.M. at my hotel. My phone rang shortly before 9. A friend from New Jersey urgently asked me to turn on the TV. “A plane hit World Trade Center!”

I had worked in Manhattan for fives years before moving to Chicago. I had been to the World Trade Center numerous times and my neighbor downstairs owns a restaurant there. I turned on the TV and saw the dark smoke rising from one building. I felt the tremor through my body.

When my colleague arrived, we continued to watch the news in the lobby of the hotel, along with other guests and hotel staff. Despite the crowd, there was a deafening silence, and then cries of shock and disbelief when we watched the second plane hit the other tower on the TV screen.

As the time passed by the seconds and minutes that day, we learned two planes crashed had originated from the Boston Logan Airport. The city was in alert and the financial district and many businesses were closed. The city announced free subway rides to help people get home…. My colleague and I were grounded and ended up being glued to the TV most of the day.

I spent the rest of the week trying to book and rebook a flight back to Chicago. Four days later when there was still no news of when flights would be allowed to take off, I rented a car and started driving all the way to Chicago.

The day journey was the longest drive I had by myself. I kept my window down, longing to hear the familiar sound of a plane in the sky. I got off the highway from time to time, driving through some local neighborhoods to calm down, to observe people’s life and to ponder what had happened. It was then I noticed so many American flags waving in the wind on top of government and commercial buildings, and in front of residential houses. I was in tears. I had been living in the U.S. for 15 years at the time and had become an American citizen. But it was then, in the face of the attack and the display of defiance and patriotism by Americans that I strongly identified myself with America.

9/11, a day that changed us and our lives forever.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com, www.moraquest.com. Mulberry Child has been turned into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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First Bike Ride of the Year

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

by Jian Ping

Chicago_Lakefront View

Spring finally arrives in Chicago, with a sudden leap in temperature from the 50s of yesterday to the mid 80 degrees today. I’ve been waiting for the weather to turn warm and ride my bike again along the lake front trail for months. Finally my chance came this morning, the first ride of the year!

At the 6:30 a.m., the sun was rising from behind a thin layer of clouds. The rain from yesterday left the trail wet, but without puddles of water. It was perfect for a bike ride. Since last October when I  scratched a thick layer of skin and flesh off my left knee from a bad bike fall (not to mention ripping off a patch of fabric, the size of my palm, from my favorite pair of jeans), I haven’t ridden my bike. Today, with the large scar still appearing raw, I was cautious and comprehensive of the trail.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

My slower speed gave me more leisure to enjoy the scene. Lake Michigan was calm this morning, with ripples of water gently rolling toward the shore. The lawn was turning green along the Lake, and the fruit trees, with dried small berries from last year still hanging on the branches, are budding with tender greens. The large elm or poplar trees still looked  dormant, their bare branches revealing the bird nests, some large and some small, in mid air. Only the daffodils stretched out their broad leaves upward, with a bright yellow bloom in the center of each plant, proudly announcing the coming of spring.

There were a few runners and cyclists along the trail. In the distance closer to the Lake, I saw a couple of people walking their dogs. I passed the two mulberry trees at the park at 53rd street, my mulberry trees, and waved to them for their survival of another cold winter. Just them, two professionally dressed cyclists passed me, shouting “On your left.” I didn’t race to keep pace with them, at least for a minute or two, like I used to. I watched them speeding ahead. Their shorts and tops hugged their bodies tightly, revealing their slim torsos. The perspiration on their legs glistened under the rising sun. They looked so fit and healthy. I saluted to them silently before they sprang out of my sight.

I made my stop at the 63rd street park, drank my water, and stretched before turning back. The 15-mile ride took me slightly over an hour, and I enjoyed every single minute of it.

If you live in Chicago, take a run, a bike ride, or a walk along the Lake. You will realize how lucky we are living and enjoying this beautiful and peaceful surroundings!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com or www.moraquest.com for more information.

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Mulberry Tree

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By Jian Ping

Mulberry Tree

I’ve been riding my bike along the Michigan lakefront trail from Museum Park by Roosevelt to the 63rd Street Park since early spring. It’s a beautiful route: starting by the Field Museum, going around Shedd Aquarium, passing behind the McCormick Place…. The trail extends for miles and miles. On the east side is the vast body of water, like an ocean, reaching into horizon. Its color turns blue, green or gray depending on the time of the day and the weather. It’s never the same. On the immediate west: trees, grass, and flowers, and then the stream of cars, buzzing on Lakeshore Drive. The scene is never the same either. I hit the trail two or three times a week, marveling at the ever changing sights and enjoying the view. Magnificent!

Last Thursday, I got on the trail later than usual and stopped at the park close to 53rd street. As I put my bike beside a bench and stretched before turning back, I noticed purple spots of stains on the paved trail. My heart skipped a beat. I looked up and could hardly believe my eyes: a huge mulberry tree arching over me, beckoning in the breeze. Only a few berries were left on the branches, which explained the stains on the ground. I looked around and found another one next to it, and then, across from the trail, yet another one. For some reason, this mulberry tree was the only one still being covered with large, dark berries! I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe I had missed them all this time.

Berries

And more berries!

I went back with my camera the next day in mid afternoon when the sun was shining. The golden beam made the dark green leaves and purple berries sparkle in midair. I touched them, gently and carefully, thinking of the five mulberry trees of my childhood. These trees were much larger and healthier. As I took photos from different angles, my mind was racing with childhood memories and my mouth watering for these lustrous berries. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement.

I knew then and there: mulberry tree, which had played a significant role in my childhood, would always have a special place in my heart.

I am and will always be a mulberry child.

Jian Ping, author  of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit www.mulberrychild.com, www.moraquest.com

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Biking along Lake Michigan

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
Chicago on Lake Michigan
Image by llprice via Flickr

It’s another beautiful spring day in Chicago. Instead of working out at the small gym in the condo building, I pumped up the deflated tires of my bike that had been collecting dust all winter and hit the trail along the lake.

Many people were out there early this Sunday morning. Cyclists dressed in smart biking uniforms whisked by, and others in bulky jackets and long pants pedaled their bikes with leisure, and walkers and joggers dotted the trail at their own pace. I used to secretly race with the cyclists. When I heard their shout “On your left,” I’d gather all my energy and follow them as soon as they were ahead of me. Despite my desperate push, however, they’d spring forward, leaving me puffing and blowing far behind in a matter of minutes. I’d watch them disappear with envy, until the next shout came along. Today, I didn’t race with anyone. I was busy taking in everything in sight: the golden sunshine casting on the bare tree branches, the ducks swimming and diving not far from the shore, a single middle-aged man fishing on the concrete platform, and the different color of the lake water each time I cast my eyes on it. I felt the vibration of life and the start of spring.

I remember Joyce Carol Oates once answered a reader’s question at a talk about her writing process. She said she was a jogger and the best time for her to muse was when she was jogging. “I never listen to music when I jog,” she said. “It’s the best time for me to think.” Her words left a lasting impression on me. Today, I left behind my iPod and gave all my attention to the scenes and the thoughts—I’ve started working on the next book, with my daughter Lisa together. We want to examine her growing up in the US—the conflicts between a mother and daughter and the Oriental and Western cultures. Could we really dig into issues that set us on the opposite side of arguments? Or would it stir up our past frustration and push us further apart? What kind of role did I play in her most formative years, despite my best effort and good intention? Could I honestly treat her as a co-author, leaving behind my Chinese mother mentality that requires submission and respect from her child? “Mom, you don’t want to know what I was thinking back then,” Lisa laughed when I first proposed we write the book from each of our perspective. It took her a long time to make her decision. Now that we’ve started, I realize it is as much a self reflection and discovery journey for me as it is for her….

As my mind wrestled with various ideas and my eyes absorbed scenes coming into view, I reached the end of my 15 miles routine journey without my noticing the passing of time or the climbing of a couple of steeper slopes.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. www.mulberrychild.com

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