For international readers, allow me to explain: I am an American but I have lived in China since 2004. My city of Chongqing, often abbreviated as CQ, is pronounced Chong Ching to rhyme with Wrong Ring. CQ is a megacity of 30 million people in south-central China, on the Yangtze River. I’ve come a long, long way – 13 time zones to be exact – from my original hometown of Rolla in south-central Missouri, on the Little Dry Fork creek. Depending on how loosely you define “city”, one could argue that CQ is the world’s largest city. In my quest for a simple life, I write these observations and admonitions from my 18th-Floor homestead.
As we approach the third birthday of this blog, it seems a fitting time for analysis and introspection. The world is vastly different today than on that unremarkable day in June of 2018 when the first blog post was published. New knowledge, new technology, new experiences, new maturity, new epiphanies, new reflections, and new companions ensure that our lives have been significantly altered in those three years – plus, there was the pandemic’s tidal wave of changes.
One of the most important things I have learned in this three-year experiment in crafting a simpler life is that many people are interested in creating their own version of a simple life… but they don’t know how to get started on the process. So, I invite all of you reading these words to find the words to answer this question: What is your biggest struggle currently? What roadblock or bottleneck is creating pain or uncertainty in your life today? In three years, I have had private conversations with many people and shared experiences, goals, fears, and successes. If you have read this far, I invite you to use your response to my questions as the beginning of an exchange. Reach out to me on Wechat or personal email (email@example.com) and tell me what you are feeling these days.
The second major revelation of the past three years can be expressed in one famous sentence by Jim Rohn: YOU ARE THE AVERAGE OF THE 5 PEOPLE YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME WITH. Think about the five people you spend the most time with. Unless you are very lucky, this group of five probably will not include your heroes, mentors, and role models. These are the people – family, friends, coworkers, etc. – with whom you spend the most time with each day, week, or month. Ask yourself: Which 5 people do I spend the most time with? Are they pulling me upward or pulling me down? Answering this single question may lead to an ah-ha moment, perhaps even an epiphany. If you feel like you are swimming upstream against a strong current and making little progress, perhaps you should look closely at who you are swimming with. Drop me an email with your thoughts.
Now, a step back in time… end
June 9, 2018
So… Why Another Blog?
In a digital ocean seemingly awash with blogs, what could possibly justify yet another one? Let me begin with a brief introduction of myself and my reason for coming to China, then my thoughts about starting this blog.
My name is Randy Green. I am an American who has lived in China for many years. I am writing these words from the city of Chongqing (pronounced “Chong Ching” which rhymes with Wrong Ring) in southwestern China. Chongqing, Wrong Ring, is sometimes called the world’s largest city with between 30 to 32 million people – depending on which authority you ask. CQ is also near the famous Three Gorges Dam. After living here for a couple of years, I have come to love this city.
But my China story really begins in north central China, in Henan province and its capital city, Zhengzhou (pronounced Jung Joe). I arrived in Zhengzhou in February of 2004. I had been invited by Zhengzhou University to come to China and be one of their foreign teachers. To steal a line from Julius Caesar: I came, I saw, I taught – plus, in my case, I loved it, and I stayed. The original invitation was for one semester but, somehow, that was extended repeatedly until I left Zhengzhou eleven years later in 2015. The full story of those first months in China is the basis for my book, China Bound.
Life before China? Well, yes, I had one. However, from the vantage point of much elapsed time, that Randy Green in America seems like another person with a very different lifestyle and different values – maybe on a different planet. Certainly, the Randy Green who stepped off the plane in 2004 is not the person I am today. Not even close.
Back in the States, despite having a lifestyle that many people would envy, I always had a faint sensation of dissatisfaction, of feeling incomplete. It was a life of “quiet desperation” as Thoreau put it in Walden. Flailing around aimlessly, I had a long series of failed relationships, blown opportunities, and disastrous career choices.
Suddenly, an opportunity for a fresh start appeared. It came in the form of an invitation to come to China and work as a foreign teacher. I can’t say that I had any special revelations when I received this job offer. No ah-ha moment or epiphany came to me as I considered the offer. But, after some deliberation, I accepted the invitation. (That’s putting it mildly; actually, I was full of doubts about the wisdom of this decision.) Thus, I came to China and started a new life. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m still here and, in general, very pleased with my situation. For the complete story, you will have to read China Bound.
Still… why should I bother to create a blog? And why should you bother to read the posts and maybe even participate with your own comments? Put briefly, if you invest some of your time here, what can you expect to get out of this blog? Well, perhaps you will find something in my experiences and reflections that will be of value to you. Also, you might make a contribution here with your own thoughts and experiences; your participation might be of value to me and other readers.
There are so many blogs. Millions of them; blogs are hardly an endangered species. Why should you choose this one? Well, each blog, like each person, is unique. Even assuming that you are what the educators call “ready to learn”, you still need to find a blog you can relate to. Finding the blogger who seems to speak directly to you may involve considerable searching. Sometimes, “Ya gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.” Every blogger has a different style and voice; I may say the same things as other bloggers but it comes out differently because of the way I say it. Perhaps there will be something in my posts that will resonate with you.
If this is the right blog for you, great. Welcome. Sign up for the email list. Send me a personal message. Let’s get acquainted.
About your privacy…
I am not starting this blog with the intention of creating a huge commercial enterprise. Yes, I hope it grows and that, someday, it will become a source of revenue. But, for the immediate future, I expect it to be nothing more than an online home for a small community of individuals with common interests. Accordingly, I will not use this blog as a spam machine, nor will I allow any other person, group, or company to do so. If you choose to participate here or to join the email list, you have my promise that your privacy will be protected as if you were my own family and closest friends.