13 November 2010


IT IS 4:00 IN THE MORNING AND VOICES ARE ECHOING strangely in a blur of confusing sounds. They meld together — trails of lights and moans. . .then screams. . .then more screams.

Wherever I am trapped, I reflexively fear for my children. “WHERE ARE YOU,” I yell to no one. “I CAN'T SEE YOU.” Yet another scream — this one is closeby and rattles me to my core.

Panicked, I sit up in bed, sweating profusely — confused and anxious, weary, but wired. My heart is racing. . .I am breathing heavily, and more than a little freaked out. I have no idea where I am.

I launch myself out of bed and begin moving through the darkness towards the shrill sounds of conflict. The voices get louder as I, completely blinded by blackness, run into the corner of a desk. Grimacing, I look up to find the tiniest pinhole of light, so I head towards it seconds before one more blood-curdling scream.

I open the door rapidly and spy two women: one is bloody around her mouth, the other has scratches on her arm. I see a man in the doorway to his hotel...he is trying to pull the women into his room.

HEY!” I yell. “LET THEM GO!” As I try to reach the man he loosens his grip and frees the women: one has obviously being struck by the mystery man. As I reach for the doorknob he slams the door shut and the two ladies lunge away and hug me, shivering.

They are speaking Chinese, a mile-a-minute.

I invite them into my room. “Let me call security...please come in.” They follow; I turn on a light, shaking a bit as I reach for the phone.

I look at the girls; they are both smiling. I now realize that I have no clothes on, except for my boxer shorts. After instantly turning red-faced, I excuse myself and dash for the bathroom to grab a robe. For the few minutes before security arrives, I politely speak broken Chinese, trying to calm them.

The young ladies giggle as I butcher their language...only to jump as a knock on the door startles the awkward silence. With the hotel security standing before me, I tell them what had just occurred. The girls both hug me, utter something, and leave.

It is now 4:08 a.m. — and I'm definitely not going back to sleep. I whip open the curtains and the serenity a beautiful city on the water is revealed. The lights flicker off the surface of the river. . .and finally, I sit down, take a deep breath and admire the monumental city across the Harbor.

Welcome to Hong Kong,” I say aloud, “the City of Magic.”

FIVE HOURS LATER I AM SITTING before a Chinese energy healer at the the city's “first alternative medicine conference. “Ni hao,” I say to greet him. The practitoner smiles and returns the pleasantry. Within a minute he is holding both of my wrists and tilts his head somewhat quizzically.

Sir,” he says is rhythmic English, “you have had some trauma to your heart within the past six hours?”

My mouth drops. I nod. The man instructs one of his assistants, waving his arms and hands, to fetch a small blue vial twenty feet away. He tells me this is a special formula containing Suan Zao Ren (or Sour Date Seed) and directs me to take one immediately and to repeat the dosage at bedtime.

Xie Xie,” I say, thanking him as I began to rise, but before I can leave, he puts his palms out, requesting that I stay seated. He again speaks to his assistant, who hurries off. Within minutes, an older Chinese man in his 80s returns with the female. He sits before me and smiles, and like the previous healer, takes me wrists, then touches my forehead.

Mmmmmm,” he says, while gesturing. He asks me, through a translator, to breathe deeply and slowly, and after a long first night in Hong Kong, I happily comply. The old man then stuns me with what he says next. “You saved those girls,” he declares quietly, pausing for the translator. “You hold Zhen-Shan-Ren close to your heart.” He spends the next few minutes meditating, or so it seems, before standing. He pats me on both sides of my head, and appears to say one final prayer.

Prior to leaving, he turns to the healer and says, “Tell him in his 54th year he will touch millions of people.” Before the healer could relay the message, he smiles, nods and then disappears into the crowd.

Today marks the beginning of my 54th year on this planet. Since I left Hong Kong, I have come to learn that “Zhen-Shan-Ren” — for which there was no literal English translation — means that I hold “Truth, Goodness, and Forebearance” close to my heart.

According to the wonderful Chinese elder, Truth, Goodness, and Forebearance is the Highest calling of man.

In this 54th year, may it be so.

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10 November 2010