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The Message Behind a Picture – September 2002

(Written September, 1997)

Almost no sleep for two nights bought on by completing the writing of a book, Dealing with Death Discovering Life, caused me to be so tired I didn’t think I could think any more. Lots had happened the last few days, including concern over money, computer problems that led me close to a decision to by a new PC, and I began wondering about Krugerands that I had, but didn’t have any idea where I had put them. I wondered where they were… “must be in storage in Seattle,” I figured. I’d been thinking about the fact that I would be gone a lot in the weeks ahead. There was so much planning still needed for completing my coursework in graduate school, talking to the Dean of Faculty about my project and my hopes–all sorts of things were spinning around in my head.

I looked at what I earned the previous month, which was barely $1000, the lowest amount since I began my practice, but I knew I needed to do all the internal work I had done in September, which always had a way of causing my professional work to decline. I noticed how much money I had in the bank. The nearly three weeks I’d be gone in the next month with no income caused me to wonder how my financial needs would be met. If I found those Krugerands, maybe worth a great deal by now, my worries could be over…but I didn’t know where they were.

My friend Terry had come over later on in the evening. She brought a replacement tape for one she had borrowed that her car stereo had eaten. We listened to the new tape, ate pizza, and talked. The tape she brought reminded me of a Kate Wolf album from over a decade before that I really loved. In the middle of our conversation, I opened my tape storage box and found the old album all wrapped in 1980’s memories.

I hadn’t listened to the album since going to China, many years before and the sound of Kate Wolf’s beautiful voice filled my eyes with tears as I remembered things I hadn’t thought about in so long. Our conversation braided around the melodies of Kate’s songs and sometimes the conversation stopped while I slipped into 1986 or 88 or some other time Terry listened as I shared so many of those memories that surrounded my trip to the Far East. There was a man I had been in love with before I left for China, a man I had wished could have loved, and another man in China…so many memories elicited by a piece of music. The song about the little box from China, and a line that says, “Like China, and a woman’s heart, there are places you can’t go” caused me to remember the days before I went to China. I talked about the difficult experience with my brother just days before I left this country, the last night in this country with a man named John; the leaving that was so painful, the coming back two years later, and the times in between.

When the last song played itself out, I asked Terry if I had ever shown her a picture of the Chinese man who had asked me to marry him. He was a wonderful man, unusually tall and muscular, with a thick head of blue-black hair. His heart was soulfully Chinese, open and still wounded from the student revolution of 1989. He was the first person I met when I stepped out of the customs enclosure in Beijing to begin a two-year adventure that was to change my life. And when I looked into his eyes, I knew I had known this man before, in some other lifetime. I think we fell in love in that moment, though it took a few more months to discover it.

I went into my den, got the picture of this beautiful human being and brought it to Terry. She asked if I had kept in touch with him. In spite of the fact that he had written to me a number of times the first year I was back, I couldn’t answer his letters. But in the heart of my heart I knew I would see him again, when we both are old.

The last time I saw Chuan Jun was in Qing Dao, a coastal city south of Beijing. We were in my hotel room; the windows were opened wide and the gauze curtains were blowing in the summer wind. It was illegal for us to be together. I would have been deported immediately if someone had found us there, and he could have been executed for such a violation. The Chinese government had already blacklisted him because he was photographed in the 1989 Tienanmin Square student protest. As our relationship developed over the two years, we had talked of marriage, but both of us knew it was not to be. He would never be free to leave China because he was on the “list” and I knew in my heart that I could not stay in a country that was not my homeland. As much as I loved China, I could never be Chinese.

As the afternoon sun shown into the room in Qing Dao, a wisp of wind lifted the curtain and it fell across his face. In that moment, his rich black hair turned gray and his dark olive skin took on the hue of an old man’s skin. I felt as if I had been transported into some future time seeing him as he would look decades later. It was a shocking moment and yet was filled with such love that I began to cry. He held me in his arms, though I did not tell him what caused the tears. He gently interrupted the silence with a whispered voice telling me that he knew we would see each other again…someday he would come to America while I was giving a lecture. He said he would be in the crowd and I would see him. He smiled as if he was seeing something that I could not see and said with a sparkle in his eye, that I would recognize him and it would be a joyful reunion. Then, as if he had read my mind, he added-and we will both be very old. He picked up my camera and took a picture of us, and then I took one of him. That was the last day I was to see Chuan Jun. As the tears of my 1991 self filled my eyes, it seemed as if I had lived many lifetimes in the intervening years.

Terry studied his face and handed the picture frame back to me, but as she did I my attention was drawn to another photo that was slightly protruding behind the one of my dear Chinese soul mate. What I found was a photograph of my brother and me taken sometime in the mid 1980s. I must not have had a frame for Chuan Jun’s picture, so I must have slipped his photo over the one of my brother and me.

Finding the picture under the picture caused me to tell Terry more about my brother. I couldn’t remember exactly when it was taken so I lifted the picture to see if there was a date on the back, and to my surprise, I discovered another picture under that one. It was a picture of John, the man I had cared for before going to China…I hadn’t even remembered that I had that picture. In shock and amazement, I studied the picture of John, a man that I had known John since the early 1980s. We had worked together for nearly a decade, and apparently he had loved me for all of those years, and I had considered him to be a really good friend. When he learned that I had filed for divorce, he asked if I would consider going out with him. We dated for a short time and then I left for China.
There on the coffee table was a photo of Chuan Jun, a photo of my brother and me, and then the picture of John, still in the frame. As the light from the setting sun shone on the framed photograph, I noticed a slight raised area under John’s picture. My fingers lightly touched the surface and I felt something underneath. I carefully removed John’s picture and there under it was a small flat vanilla colored envelope. I opened the envelope, and shook the contents into my hand…

… There, resting in the palm of my left hand, were three solid gold coins, the Krugerands I had been wondering about for several days. I was stunned!

A damaged tape from my friend’s car stereo led her getting a tape to replace it. The tape she bought reminded me of Kate Wolf’s music that I searched for, found, and played. The Kate Wolf album led to reminiscing about the 1980s and 90s, about life experiences before China, including difficulties I had with my brother just before leaving for the Far East, and about my dear friend John. The Wolf Song about China led to my own memories of China and to my relationship with Chuan Jun. That conversation led to a my going in search of Chuan Jun’s picture that covered the picture of my brother and John, and the Krugerands that had been missing for over a decade.

I had no idea how much thee coins were worth, ten dollars, one hundred, five hundred, a thousand…more. I was so amazed that just two days before, while being worried about my financial situation, I had thought of the Krugerands I had received in 1982. I had forgotten that I hid them in the back of a picture frame for safety, a frame that had become the container of other pictures over the years.

The next day I called a coin shop and found that each one had a market value of $32.00, certainly not enough to buy a PC or solve my financial crisis. I looked at the coins and knew that their value was not the value. They came back into my life as a reminder that I have the ability to bring to myself what I visualize. They were my symbol that the universe and I co-create my experience, and that I am far more powerful than I normally acknowledge. It didn’t matter that the value of the three coins were less than $100.00. To me, they were priceless.

The afternoon that I discovered the face value of the coins was about $96.00, I received a call telling me that I would be receiving a check for $1700 from an old insurance claim, that I had long given up on ever receiving. And just minutes after the call about the claim, I received another call from a local computer company telling me that they had a customer with a used PC for sale. He was asking $2,000 for it. And in the next couple of hours, five clients called to make appointments for the next day, filling my previously empty schedule. At the $60 an hour that I was charging at that time, I had access to exactly $2000 that I had not had when I woke in the morning. I felt exceedingly happy, not because of the money, but because I knew that what I needed, I could receive.

(Written September, 1997)

Almost no sleep for two nights bought on by completing the writing of a book, Dealing with Death Discovering Life, caused me to be so tired I didn’t think I could think any more. Lots had happened the last few days, including concern over money, computer problems that led me close to a decision to by a new PC, and I began wondering about Krugerands that I had, but didn’t have any idea where I had put them. I wondered where they were… “must be in storage in Seattle,” I figured. I’d been thinking about the fact that I would be gone a lot in the weeks ahead. There was so much planning still needed for completing my coursework in graduate school, talking to the Dean of Faculty about my project and my hopes–all sorts of things were spinning around in my head.

I looked at what I earned the previous month, which was barely $1000, the lowest amount since I began my practice, but I knew I needed to do all the internal work I had done in September, which always had a way of causing my professional work to decline. I noticed how much money I had in the bank. The nearly three weeks I’d be gone in the next month with no income caused me to wonder how my financial needs would be met. If I found those Krugerands, maybe worth a great deal by now, my worries could be over…but I didn’t know where they were.

My friend Terry had come over later on in the evening. She brought a replacement tape for one she had borrowed that her car stereo had eaten. We listened to the new tape, ate pizza, and talked. The tape she brought reminded me of a Kate Wolf album from over a decade before that I really loved. In the middle of our conversation, I opened my tape storage box and found the old album all wrapped in 1980’s memories.

I hadn’t listened to the album since going to China, many years before and the sound of Kate Wolf’s beautiful voice filled my eyes with tears as I remembered things I hadn’t thought about in so long. Our conversation braided around the melodies of Kate’s songs and sometimes the conversation stopped while I slipped into 1986 or 88 or some other time Terry listened as I shared so many of those memories that surrounded my trip to the Far East. There was a man I had been in love with before I left for China, a man I had wished could have loved, and another man in China…so many memories elicited by a piece of music. The song about the little box from China, and a line that says, “Like China, and a woman’s heart, there are places you can’t go” caused me to remember the days before I went to China. I talked about the difficult experience with my brother just days before I left this country, the last night in this country with a man named John; the leaving that was so painful, the coming back two years later, and the times in between.

When the last song played itself out, I asked Terry if I had ever shown her a picture of the Chinese man who had asked me to marry him. He was a wonderful man, unusually tall and muscular, with a thick head of blue-black hair. His heart was soulfully Chinese, open and still wounded from the student revolution of 1989. He was the first person I met when I stepped out of the customs enclosure in Beijing to begin a two-year adventure that was to change my life. And when I looked into his eyes, I knew I had known this man before, in some other lifetime. I think we fell in love in that moment, though it took a few more months to discover it.

I went into my den, got the picture of this beautiful human being and brought it to Terry. She asked if I had kept in touch with him. In spite of the fact that he had written to me a number of times the first year I was back, I couldn’t answer his letters. But in the heart of my heart I knew I would see him again, when we both are old.

The last time I saw Chuan Jun was in Qing Dao, a coastal city south of Beijing. We were in my hotel room; the windows were opened wide and the gauze curtains were blowing in the summer wind. It was illegal for us to be together. I would have been deported immediately if someone had found us there, and he could have been executed for such a violation. The Chinese government had already blacklisted him because he was photographed in the 1989 Tienanmin Square student protest. As our relationship developed over the two years, we had talked of marriage, but both of us knew it was not to be. He would never be free to leave China because he was on the “list” and I knew in my heart that I could not stay in a country that was not my homeland. As much as I loved China, I could never be Chinese.

As the afternoon sun shown into the room in Qing Dao, a wisp of wind lifted the curtain and it fell across his face. In that moment, his rich black hair turned gray and his dark olive skin took on the hue of an old man’s skin. I felt as if I had been transported into some future time seeing him as he would look decades later. It was a shocking moment and yet was filled with such love that I began to cry. He held me in his arms, though I did not tell him what caused the tears. He gently interrupted the silence with a whispered voice telling me that he knew we would see each other again…someday he would come to America while I was giving a lecture. He said he would be in the crowd and I would see him. He smiled as if he was seeing something that I could not see and said with a sparkle in his eye, that I would recognize him and it would be a joyful reunion. Then, as if he had read my mind, he added-and we will both be very old. He picked up my camera and took a picture of us, and then I took one of him. That was the last day I was to see Chuan Jun. As the tears of my 1991 self filled my eyes, it seemed as if I had lived many lifetimes in the intervening years.

Terry studied his face and handed the picture frame back to me, but as she did I my attention was drawn to another photo that was slightly protruding behind the one of my dear Chinese soul mate. What I found was a photograph of my brother and me taken sometime in the mid 1980s. I must not have had a frame for Chuan Jun’s picture, so I must have slipped his photo over the one of my brother and me.

Finding the picture under the picture caused me to tell Terry more about my brother. I couldn’t remember exactly when it was taken so I lifted the picture to see if there was a date on the back, and to my surprise, I discovered another picture under that one. It was a picture of John, the man I had cared for before going to China…I hadn’t even remembered that I had that picture. In shock and amazement, I studied the picture of John, a man that I had known John since the early 1980s. We had worked together for nearly a decade, and apparently he had loved me for all of those years, and I had considered him to be a really good friend. When he learned that I had filed for divorce, he asked if I would consider going out with him. We dated for a short time and then I left for China.
There on the coffee table was a photo of Chuan Jun, a photo of my brother and me, and then the picture of John, still in the frame. As the light from the setting sun shone on the framed photograph, I noticed a slight raised area under John’s picture. My fingers lightly touched the surface and I felt something underneath. I carefully removed John’s picture and there under it was a small flat vanilla colored envelope. I opened the envelope, and shook the contents into my hand…

… There, resting in the palm of my left hand, were three solid gold coins, the Krugerands I had been wondering about for several days. I was stunned!

A damaged tape from my friend’s car stereo led her getting a tape to replace it. The tape she bought reminded me of Kate Wolf’s music that I searched for, found, and played. The Kate Wolf album led to reminiscing about the 1980s and 90s, about life experiences before China, including difficulties I had with my brother just before leaving for the Far East, and about my dear friend John. The Wolf Song about China led to my own memories of China and to my relationship with Chuan Jun. That conversation led to a my going in search of Chuan Jun’s picture that covered the picture of my brother and John, and the Krugerands that had been missing for over a decade.

I had no idea how much thee coins were worth, ten dollars, one hundred, five hundred, a thousand…more. I was so amazed that just two days before, while being worried about my financial situation, I had thought of the Krugerands I had received in 1982. I had forgotten that I hid them in the back of a picture frame for safety, a frame that had become the container of other pictures over the years.

The next day I called a coin shop and found that each one had a market value of $32.00, certainly not enough to buy a PC or solve my financial crisis. I looked at the coins and knew that their value was not the value. They came back into my life as a reminder that I have the ability to bring to myself what I visualize. They were my symbol that the universe and I co-create my experience, and that I am far more powerful than I normally acknowledge. It didn’t matter that the value of the three coins were less than $100.00. To me, they were priceless.

The afternoon that I discovered the face value of the coins was about $96.00, I received a call telling me that I would be receiving a check for $1700 from an old insurance claim, that I had long given up on ever receiving. And just minutes after the call about the claim, I received another call from a local computer company telling me that they had a customer with a used PC for sale. He was asking $2,000 for it. And in the next couple of hours, five clients called to make appointments for the next day, filling my previously empty schedule. At the $60 an hour that I was charging at that time, I had access to exactly $2000 that I had not had when I woke in the morning. I felt exceedingly happy, not because of the money, but because I knew that what I needed, I could receive.

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