A New Chapter

Matt | Decision Making | Thursday, March 26th, 2009

It has been a struggle to write lately.

It’s not because I haven’t experienced anything in China worth writing about.  It’s not that I haven’t had the time to write.  It’s not that I have lost the passion to write.  Actually, it’s because I haven’t felt like I deserved to write about China.

A few weeks ago I made a decision that will end one chapter of my life.  I decided to return to Canada.  I decided to stop teaching English in China.  I decided to leave China.

So this put me in an awkward position.  Should I continue to write about living and working and dreaming of China when I was planning and preparing and priming to return to Canada?  My heart said no.  So I stopped.

But, here I am again, softly typing on my keyboard.  I have decided to write again because I believe I have some things that I still want to write about.  And I want to improve my writing skills.  Yesterday I finished reading the best book I have read on writing called, On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. In reading this book, I realized that if I want to improve my writing skills then I would have to write (an rewrite) more.  So I will continue down this path.

As for ending one chapter of my life.  I have always thought that ones’ life is like a book with many interesting chapters and characters who enter and exit at different stages to help us learn something.  Like a good book the purpose is not to get to the end quickly, but instead to enjoy every page, every twist, every experience.  I love books.  I love great characters.  I love how some characters quickly enter a story and then leave, but still leave their impression on the reader and the story.  I also love how certain characters stay with the protagonist through the closing of one chapter and the start of the next.  Some stay throughout the great book.  So while this chapter is closing for me, another one is beginning with a lot of pure white pages ready to be filled.

Analects of Confucius – Ch. 19

Matt | Analects of Confucius | Saturday, March 7th, 2009

5.  “One can be said to have mastered what one has learned,” said Zi Xia, “if one learns new knowledge every day, and reviews what one has learned every month,”

This is one of the most important things that I have learned in my 32 years of being.  How it’s important to try and learn something, anything, each and every day.  And if you do this you will be a little better tomorrow that you were yesterday and will be headed in the right direction.  As for reviewing what one has learned, that is also vital for memory work.  If you review something regularly you greatly increase the chance you’ll remember it (24 hour, 1 month, 6 month reviews).

8. Zi Xia said, “The petty man tries his best to cover up his errors.”

I take this as a gentleman will own up to his mistakes and face the consequences and learn from the experience.  As I write this I am staring at a burn mark I left on my desk last night from an errant candle during my Valentine’s Day festivities.  I was debating simply pulling the TV forward to cover this burn mark or to face up to it with my landlord.  I’ll probably try to fix it first, then tell the landlord.

11. “As long as one does not step out of bounds in big matters, it is permissible for one not to be meticulous.” said Zi Xia.

I like this.  I take it as focus on getting the big things right.  If you focus on the 1 or 2 important things, everything else will work itself out as it should.

25. Chen Ziqin said to Zi Gong, “Do you really think that Confucius is greater than you? Is it out of respect for your Master?” Zi Gong answered, “One can tell whether a gentleman is wise or stupid in one word he utters.  So he has to be careful in speech.  Nobody is able to surpass my Master just as nobody can reach the sky with the help of a ladder.  When my Master took office in court, the common people knew the rites, and followed my Master whole-heartedly.  Moreover, people were attracted from afar.  My Master will be honoured when alive and mourned when dead.  How can I equal him?

Be careful of what you say.  You can tell whether someone is wise or stupid , “…in one word he utters.”  Does this hold true for with one word someone writes?  Then I must remember to review my work better.  And think more before I utter sounds out of my mouth in the form of words.

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