Baudelaire and Sun Worship

Nicholas Quirke was in a thoughtful mode on 17 April 2020. His attention had turned once again to how he was to occupy himself and make a living, make something positive out of the situation he was in. He remembered that when he initially began planning to leave Brighton for China his intention had been to teach, then what had started as a confident belief became more and more vague as his job options and opportunities, really due to his age, were limited till he literally decided to just go without a plan and what will be will be. He had felt a little shamed that he was trusting to fate; then, in the morning,  when he discovered a quote from Baudelaire his concern about the future evaporated as he recognised himself completely as embodying the spirit of the pericope. “The true voyagers are only those who leave just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons.” Yes, his heart was light, every day of his journey, every discovery he set out upon, each new leaving for the sake of it. The spirit of the quote was with him that day as he once again bestrode his bike, after a lunch of noodles, to visit the Temple of Sun. As he sped through the broad boulevard of Changanjie Street in Beijing, The Forbidden City to his left, Tiananmen Square to his right he felt a little disconcerted by his diligence in visiting all the ancient temple sites when what they symbolised was the ritual slaughter of livestock for the Emperors of the Ming and Quing Dynasties to honour the various phenomena of nature. Suddenly, the thought that he was inadvertently celebrating the murder of animals did not sit well with his vegan conscience though it was not a reflection that halted his journey and it was a relief that he didn’t as once again it was a beautiful serene space, despite its overtones of butchery. The actual arena where the sacrifices took place was again closed, but with GoPro and extendable stick and his voice command, he was able to get a good picture of the ‘sacred space’. A feature of the park was its plethora of ancient trees, there were a number over 500 years old and there was one which was over 1000. It was a profound experience to be in the presence of a living thing that was this ancient and been in that one one spot, what changes it must have seen. He found his way to a Teasure where he enjoyed  a never ending pot of Jasmine tea and shared his Vegan Restaurant recommendations with the expat community on WeChat. Peng joined him after work and they went for a delicious and stomach extending dinner at a Noodle restaurant. It was then time for another haircut. He enjoyed the pleasurable luxury of having his hair washed again and as he sat having his trim, with the face mask covering the lower part of his face and his large protruding ears rather more noticeable than normal, he was struck by how much he looked like an chimp! Cycle home, deep conversation, sleep.

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