Saturday, February 23, 2008


A playful dragon rolls over in the sea and so Formosa is born. A big fertile, steamy island and then the Manchurians come, with their rescued treasures of jade and ink, bronze and pottery; their ideas of freedom, their gods and their ancestors.

I arrive midweek on the last day of the Chinese New Year, the full moon, a lunar eclipse no less, the beginning of the year of the rat.

After meetings and negotiations, introductions and and presentations, we make our way back into the street for our dinner with the office staff, so excited, eager to entertain the forgien guest, the parent company management.

Right outside the building a crowd lights incense, chants a cheer for the new year while a middle aged man holds a dragon costume loosly in his hands. Firecrackers go off and suddenly the dragon comes alive, the chubby man below ducking and twirling, possessed by the spirit of prosperity and good fortune.

We stop for a moment before our taxis come, watching the festivities, grown women wear rat ears and smile at me, as the dragon approaches I walk closer, smiling, excited I touch him, as the others have done, for good luck. They laugh and nod and welcome my participation, the taxis come and we are off to the center of Taipei.

101 is one of the tallest buildings in the world. We gorge ourselves on course after course of Thai cuisine, soups, salads, rices, meats, curries, more flavors than a tongue can keep track of. An Irishman (who is married to a Hong Kong born woman) tells me "you have to just stop eating and push back or they keep brining food.". I taste only a bit of each dish, still, I am so full and my mouth is so full of wonderous flavors that when the whole catfish is brought out I am convinced he is laughing at me. The final course will go uneaten..... But no! There is dessert, custards and sherberts and fruit, sweet, glorious, exotic fruit.

Sated, stretched, filled with smiles and laughter we make our way to the fastest elevator on earth. Hundreds of meters per second we rise up on the smooth aero dynamic lift, gaze at the constellation of stars designed into the ceiling and in just moments find ourselves in a hall, darkened inthe evening marked with maps that explain the amazingly lit city below.

Buildings compete in shape and color to be recognized from far above. It is a carnival of lights, a field of neon that stretches for miles, it is a teeming, blinking, shining game board of life on the eve of the festival of lanterns. If there is a light to shine tonight she is lit.

Such luck I have already, such fortune, such blessings are mine to be here on this day, to witness this evening, to see the tiny lanterns buoyed by warm flames, lift into the night, carrying happy prayers.

The moon shines above, the highest happiest of lights on this night- my world has shifted, I am physically high, spiritually open and learning thinking this other way, I am lit from without I am lit from with in, I am turned around and upside down, on the other side of the earth, I am so delighted, so awed, after so many miles, after so many cities after so many moons, after so many years to be as a child again, to be as new as the year waiting in the open anticipation of life.


No comments: