My dream and life in China

By Jess Meider
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 10, 2014
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Jess Meider, a New York-born singer-songwriter and long-time Beijing resident.
In 1997 I learned my first Chinese sentence in the car ride from the airport to the city center. "Wo bu hui shuo zhong wen." Today, taxi drivers are always impressed by my Chinese. "It's not that good," I reply humbly, "but at least I can communicate." When I first arrived here, I was young and very American. Now I consider myself a Beijing ren. I could not know that my 'guanxi' with China would become so inseparable and strong. I'm a professional musician. My dream of performing on stages with so many different kinds of people has been realized in Beijing. An eclectic mix of musicians live here, and I've been a part of this scene for 17 years. I've watched it grow, and I've grown along with it. I must be grateful to China for this.


And I didn't know it at the time that I arrived in China, but I began my journey of eating well. Chinese food is the most well-composed, deeply cultured, artistic sensations for the tongue. I have grown to love the "middle" kingdom tastes! Interesting (and not coincidental), TCM the middle is the "earth" element, which represents the stomach spleen meridians. In all my experience of living here, I've found the best way to make good guanxi is to prepare a meal for fellow Chinese friends, or go out to a fantastic restaurant to satisfy our stomachs. I love this about Chinese culture.

After so many years, I must reconsider what my China dream is, because it includes my husband and 1 year old daughter, as well as our Beijing family. I want continue to inspire myself to live in balance. I've been seeing a TCM doctor once a week steadily for 3 years now. Chinese medicine is fascinating-The 5 elements and the cycles of balance and flow in our bodies. For the first time in my life, I am feeling well, mentally, physically, energetically. The practice of "guo rizi" is a great concept. It means "going thru the day diligently but ease-filled in your meridians and therefore your mind." Cultivating abundance but not over-abundance. Chinese "know" this, but they don't know it. It isn't until we are well in our bodies and life habits that "ni zhi dao le" So many of us bu zhi "dao."

For years, in interviews people ask me what I dislike the most about China. "The pollution," is my reply. I am practicing balance, prescribing to traditional Chinese medicine and traditional Daoist thought, and yet I look around to see my Beijing family, friends and most Chinese population embracing/idolizing/yearning for the "west" and disregarding the "best" of Chinese culture for something more 2-dimensional, unfulfilling and ultimately devastating to the culture and the earth. Why is it that the west has everyone so bedazzled? I think it's because it puts on a good show over here in China, and Chinese love "yangzi" (appearance). It's so trendy and far from the way life used to be only 30 years ago. I kept hoping that China would employ smarter/earth-sensitive technologies and infrastructures that would make them leaders in the world for dynamic natural-based production and living. There's still time...but so far, it seems a lot of the "same, same but different" way.

I love Beijing. My "ren mai" (life artery) is here. Even though I am a foreigner, I am Beijing. I love the "home" food, the parks, the familial way of the people. I've grown as a musician, as a person. But more and more, I question where I can live now that Beijing is overcrowded with people, cars and buildings. Bicycling is unsafe, walking is hazardous and the empty shopping malls have replaced the hutongs and siheyuans. Trendy chain restaurants have put the mom and pop delicious restaurants out of business. Beijing is overweight and unhealthy. The cultured are slowly dying off. How will Beijing develop? I wonder, because China's dream ultimately affects my dream. I hope the direction of the dream is towards balance...I hope that China can use its own knowledge of the 5 elements to help itself rebalance.

I miss quaint, lively Beijing. Vivid and innocent China.

China and I have "yuan." My life path was always bringing me here, to understand myself more clearly, to know the beautiful Chinese culture and a vast international community, to meet my husband and make music together and have a family.

The author is a professional American musician and has been living in Beijing since 1997. For more information about Jess Meider and her life and work, please visit:

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