My friend Jonathan is living in the Chinese coastal city of Dalian, a small metropolis he has described as a cross between San Francisco, Palm Beach, and Dubai; like Portland, but bigger, classier, wealthier, and Chinese. Apparently, Dalian is a collecting pool for all manner of young, hip Asians, Russians, and Americans, and he’s found work as an English tutor and author of language education textbooks, which he writes in a cafe part time, presumably while wearing loose-fitting linen clothing perfectly suited to writerly idling and the nursing of Bloody Marys. Here in New York, in the blinding hustle of unrestrained, collective Capitalistic striving, I stew in a mixture of admiration and jealousy. I should be in China, living simultaneously in the mountains and on the beach, which is apparently possible there, because the hills run directly to sand and ocean. Jonathan writes:
I took a jog this afternoon, but after ten minutes of running I found a little path that led into the mountains, and my jog turned into a brief sunset hike. Dalian is a mountain city, like San Fran Sans Trollies, and there ain’t nuttin’ butter then having a mountain trail ten minutes from your front door.
That is the language of the truly relaxed, of a man in harmony with his surroundings. Reading Jonathan’s blog, The Art of Living, I am reminded of living in Spain during my semester abroad in college and the value of an open-ended adventure devoid of conventional purpose. You don’t travel to make money or fall in love or advance a career; you travel to let striving fall away and find, in it’s place, a connection to movement and the ever-unfolding newness of the world that is difficult to see in the grinding rhythm of daily life and worries. For a desk jockey, this sort of writing is a kind of porn – I read it to remind myself that I’m going to go see the world too, one of these days.