Each twist and turn we experience through our lives acts like a kaleidoscope, that shifts the colour and pattern with each rotation, reshaping how we understand our recollections and how we might interpret and accept each new event that comes along.
One event that comes to mind marks, for me, the cultural and moral shifts in our society over my lifetime. In 1967, when our Vancouver home was for sale, a Chinese couple toured the house. Seeing that, a neighbour—a close friend to my mother, or so it seemed—demanded we never sell to this family. Deeply disturbed, my mother rejected the proposal without a hint of consideration. My mother recounted this experience to me many years later, so casually, it very likely might have been left unsaid. Regardless of the delay, I am grateful. For it is in stories such as this one, often left untold, that we gain insight into the very fabric of our heritage, and the influences on our character that offer awareness of how choices shape our lives.
Forty-one years later, in Hangzhou, China, my wife and I were on our customary morning stroll, when, approaching that city’s famous lake, we came upon a congregation of mostly elderly people engaged in the ancient art of Tai Chi. Their bodies navigated a choreography of fluid movements, carving serenely through the air, accompanied by the songs that resonated the depths of China’s soul, their spirits intertwining with the rhythm of existence.
Over the past decades, since we moved to our neighbourhood, the pattern of our community has been reshaped. Once my wife was the only Chinese person on the street, now she is one of many. And so it is, in the soft embrace of each new day, in the park adjacent to our home, a Tai Chi performance unfolds. A gathering of around twenty, mostly Chinese women, assembles beneath a protective canopy of oak, maple, and linden trees, form a procession along the narrow path to perform a delicate choreography. Like notes in a symphony, they align their bodies in harmony, moving with grace and intention, accompanied by melodies that carry whispers of their distant homeland. And as the tendrils of music drift across the grassy field, buoyed by the gentle caress of the breeze, I find solace upon my back porch, cradling a cup of coffee, to enjoy a sensory serenade that lulls the soul into a state of quiet contemplation.