View from Dharma Drum Mountain

see the view from Dharma Drum Mountain;

or hear the ice-cream-truck-like chime of the garbage trucks in town as they make their rounds;

or feel the 84 degree heat and 84 percent humidity at 4am;

or talk with the woman who feeds two stray cats daily near the Taipei orchestra building;

or get the monks’ names confused;

or attempt to communicate with very broken and basic Chinese: “No, I’m Buddhist, not Christian”;

or smell rot, flowers, charcoal, food, and sweat simultaneously;

or try to explain to a mentally-ill bag lady that you really don’t understand much Chinese;

or attempt to find vegetarian food;

or try and act normally;

or feel the sweat gently rolling down one’s back in meditation;

or greet the monk riding the bicycle;

or learn, almost the hard way, how to negotiate squat toilets in robes;

or try and learn Chinese names (hmm…is that a first or last name?);

or enjoy lunch with many very friendly people each day;

or bow to three very beautiful Buddhas at Morning and Evening Service;

or bomb your Chinese test because you thought it was a good idea to have an iced coffee, and the caffeine muddled all the characters together in the mind;

or manage to survive fairly Ok on five hours a sleep a night;

or struggle to chant what is too low for your voice;

or negotiate robes in the midst of a typhoon;

or try not to gaze at the pretty people;

or try to look (for safety reasons) at the deadly stiletto-heals that seem to be everywhere;

or try not to go to Starbucks just because they speak English;

or return the smile of a little girl on the subway, who doesn’t know what to make of a white guy in robes;

or return the smile of a grandmother on the subway, who doesn’t know what to make of a white guy in robes;

or begin to recognize bird songs and frog “barks”;

or worry if you should make a full prostration or not to the Venerable who just came in the room;

or feel one’s rear-end becoming one with one’s clothes on the two-hour bus ride to school;

or laugh with the monks;

or feel surprised that the rain is not cool;

or try and master getting the last bits of rice out of a bowl with chopsticks, with some measure of dignity;

or be impressed with the orderliness of the Taiwanese;

or feel ashamed with all the bows from the devoted lay people;

or listen to the same Chinese-pop song at the sushi place in the bus and subway stations dozens of times, as they all have it on repeat for some unknown and nonsensical reason;

or roast under the sun, walking to lunch;

or gawk at the size of the spiders, and the nimbleness of the cockroaches;

or wonder what tomorrow will be like;

or wonder where everyone is going (do I need to follow them?);

or try to be brave and say something other than, “I can’t speak Chinese,” because it isn’t really true any more.

But, alas, you are not here….at least not in that way.

You are, of course, always welcome…..:)