18 December, 2012

December is for Creationism

I wrote this on the first day of December. I wanted to publish it as is, rather than editing it due to the delay in posting. Sorry about that, by the way; my VPN has been on the fritz lately. Enjoy!

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Don’t let this title alarm you. I’m not looking to have an evolution discussion, especially not here on my Chinablog (and besides, Bill Nye the Science Guy said it best). Instead, I want to talk about my own version of creationism…

Still. Not evolution. Hopefully this blog will read like a Chicken Soup for the Creator’s Soul.

Maybe not? I cannot make that kind of promise. However, I can say that after this month of November that I am pretty sure I have the soul of a creator. As I am sure most have noticed, the month of November has been a lengthy silence. First allow me to explain…

The explanation I gave to most people who asked was that the month ended up being a perfect storm of busy (but then I needed a different analogy after Sandy hit). I made the mistake giving all of my midterm tests during the same week, and that included a ridiculous amount of writings and papers. This left me with stacks on stacks on stacks of things to mark on my coffee table, and I had to find time to do all of it during my already busy schedule. Unfortunately, this Herculean amount of work was only the beginning.

November also marked the once-in-a-decade transition of the Chinese government (obligatory Communist Party joke here), which meant the government was cracking down on the internet. Censorship and blackouts of various websites, including Google, were at an all-time high leading up to and during this Communistic changing of the guard with Chinese characteristics.

After giving up on “perfect storm” analogies, I switched to boxing. However, it was so much more than just a one-two punch. It was more like a one-two-three-four rapid-fire jab to my midsection. On top of the grading, and the internet lockdown, November also brought me a pretty rough bout of depression. I was stuck in a slump, a routine of sadness that I couldn’t seem to break (in fact, my last post was probably a big indicator of this).

But now it’s December, and I am dancing in the light at the end of the tunnel. Now through this festive time, I’ve realised, as I mentioned above, I am definitely a creative-type. I need to be creating things. I find joy in creation, and part of my depression for the last month has probably been the lack of writing, not creating anything for people to enjoy. It is the chicken soup for my soul.

Part of this discovery has come via my friends. Enjoying and appreciating the creations of my friends has helped me through my tough time, and motivated me to keep at it. A couple weeks back, another Lanzhou volunteer posted a video on facebook of some music he had composed. If you follow the link, you can read in his description, where he talks about how great it felt to create music again.

While I’m creating this post, hopefully creating some buzz and extra traffic for my friends’ creations, there are a few other people I’d like to plug, one of which is an interesting and insightful blog written by another PCV living down in Guizhou. He’s a much better writer than I, and is far more thoughtful and articulate about matters such as the Chinese economy.

Another PCV who creates a lot is my friend Amanda. She’s the nearest volunteer to me in Lanzhou, and I’ve referenced her often here. Her passion for creation centres on food. In fact, my last blog about food was a cooking adventure with her. She is constantly cooking and writing, and in the last month has uploaded her posts corresponding to my angst-ridden writing about cooking.
I also take a great delight in creating food (although I do it with much less skill and finesse). I proved that last week for Thanksgiving. In my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer, Turkey Day has been the most meaningful holiday I’ve celebrated abroad. I think part of it has to do with its uniquely American origin. Last year, we had a wonderful potluck dinner. This year, it was even better. I baked another pie, with the help of my friend Courtney. Plus, I tracked down this great recipe for a sweet potato and lentil stew. Everyone who tried the stew was incredibly complimentary, so I’d recommend checking out that link and trying to cook it for yourself.

Looking back at the photos from the day that appeared on facebook created such a great sense of love. I spent most of the day telling people I was thankful for their friendship, and in hindsight, I was far more genuine than my wine-fueled toasts may have come across. It made me regret what I wrote last month. So to all my friends who read this, please know I’m thankful for you. In addition, I’m thankful for the people who wrote me in my long absence. I received some emails inquiring about my health, people concerned that I hadn’t written anything in a while.

I am thankful for my ability to create. To write. To use this as an outlet for my thoughts, my stories, and whatever else I can commit to writing.

Speaking of committing to writing, I realised the other day that I have made quite a few writing commitments I have yet to fulfill. I still have some great stories from my summer vacation to tell, in addition to a month’s worth of BlogThings posts to catch up on.

I want to end this post reaffirming my commitment to create—not necessarily to people who read this (although, I am grateful), but to myself. I need to create. My philosophy of creationism is for my own mental health.

Cheers to December, and what it may bring…

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