July 26th, 2016

Didn’t I say I should publish my notes more often, at best day by day?

So here I am, sitting in the bamboo hut, on a sunny afternoon. The breeze, coming from miles away across the valley makes this hut the best place for quiet endeavors such as naps or writing. Here, just a stone’s throw away from the Center, Li Yang and I are more or less at a safe distance from the children’s constant shouting and laughter inside. (The above picture shows the view from the hut.)

Li Yang is sleeping in a tent here on the bamboo floor and I am keeping her company. Since yesterday evening she has been complaining about tiredness, pressure on the chest, numbness of the face and hands, and an anxiously high heart rate. It’s an old theme, since she often feels her heart beating far too fast when she’s tired and under stress. She has been working overnight again recently. (Deadlines before departure…) This time though, this nasty feeling has been lasting for much longer.

Tonight, volunteer Baldy will drive Li Yang and me to town, so tomorrow the two of us can visit the hospital where she can get this heart check we have been postponing for 10 years. (I might get myself checked as well as it’s been over 10 years since I’ve seen a doctor.) It’ll be good to have this done. Even if it turns out to be only a mild situation (hopefully!) from now on she will (hopefully!) feel more compulsion to take time to relax.

July 27th, 2016

Again a sunny afternoon. But this time we are in the nearby town Mangshi. In our hotel room, Li Yang is at her laptop and I am at mine.

This morning, a friendly doctor had a good look at the scribbly lines on both of our electrocardiograms. Our situations are in fact similar: neither of us has a real heart defect, which is good news, but both our autonomous nervous systems suffer some psychosomatic heart troubles. She prescribed some medicine for both of us.

We have to work at our health. It could be that my more advanced age makes me more receptive to psychosomatic stress. I’m seldom as stressed as Li Yang, but I do shoulder my part of the workload, only I am not as good as Li Yang at turning it into constructive solutions.

But for her, with that constant workload and distraction during daytime, would it be feasible to fully refrain from working overnight? So often, nighttime is the only time available for undistracted work.

Psychological stress, inevitable when involved in non-profit work in a country and area like this, is the main culprit. But what we CAN do is reduce our workload. We should reject more offers for cooperation and only concentrate on the most urgent matters.

We are working on very practical ways to reduce distraction from the children as well. The present Prop Roots Center is a multi-functional place full of activity, where children climb on and off stairs like in a labyrinth and constantly furnish new cozy nests for themselves. Li Yang and I sleep, or try to, in a glass room without curtains, often surrounded by children. All activity takes place within this one single building. We often have to work while little children are shouting and chattering, or while B-boys are practicing their street dance (impossible without loud music!), just a few meters away from our office and bedroom.

There is one big remedy ahead, but this will demand even harder work before we can enjoy its fruits. This will absorb most of our energy for the period of at least September to December. It’s the Jackie Chan construction + TV production story (see previous post) about which much more will follow.

You are right in asking! How come we still haven't departed on our expedition into Tibet yet! This is interesting stuff for the next post...