Enduring in Idle Moments of Pause: Calming Down & a Day Trip to Suzhou.

After this insanely busy last month (catch up reading here and here if you don’t know what I’m talking about), I am finally back to what one could call a ‘normal’ day to day life. Well, okay, at least what should be relatively ‘normal’. So really it’s quite a challenging change for me haha. Meaning that for the next month I will mainly spend my time attending lectures and writing papers here in Shanghai – with the exciting option of just relaxing in-between, meeting friends and exploring the city.

On Saturday I went to one of the ‘smaller’ cities (population: 4.3million) right outside Shanghai with some friends. Finally! I really didn’t get to experience China as much as I would have wanted up until now. Of course things here never go quite as smoothly as you wish in China – which meant we could only spend 3.5h exploring the city because almost all trains back were already fully booked, so we had to leave early and stand for 1.5h in a slow train rather than seating comfortably for 20min on a fast train. Even that was an experience though. We spend most of our time in the famous ‘Humble Administrator’s Garden’, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. And briefly saw Tiger Hill with the impressive Yunyan Pagoda (built 907-961CE).

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny spring day, with about 20 degrees Celsius (high 60s F) and by 11am I had already checked all the boxes of my day’s to-do-list: Go to school for some administrative stuff (yes on a Sunday, make-up work day in China because of a holiday last week…), go to the bank, print some stuff in a print shop, hit the gym. So I had all afternoon to just enjoy myself. Odd experience. Really odd. So, I went to a beautiful park around my house and read papers for school. Plain beautiful to sit in the sun for 3 hours.

This day made me realize though how crazy caught up I have been in things – and how directed by outer forces and circumstances, throughout the last weeks and months. Time to cool down, breath, laugh and rest. Even though I know there will always be ‘Seasons of Sacrifice’ (as Gretchen Rubin would call it), I appreciate that I have managed to gain that awareness and actively celebrate when they are over. However, staying put and enduring in these seemingly idle moments of pause frankly still is one of the most difficult challenges for me. I cannot promise that I won’t make plans for new adventures and look for new tasks to complete soon. But for now I’ll do my best to just sit with this peaceful moment, enjoy it – in the sun. And let it pass.

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