Great Wall Experience

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Hiking on the Huanghuacheng Great Wall – one of the fourteen sections of the Great Wall of China – on weekends was a central part of my life as an expatriate in Beijing. Only 30 minutes of subway ride away from the city center were grass fields scattered with pastel-colored wildflowers and the bright blue sky that provided a refreshing respite from the stifling smog. When it began snowing in Winter, however, it was closed off due to safety issues, and I had to wait until March when the snow thawed and seeped into the ground. In my fourth year in Beijing, my parents made a special exception: they had booked a cable car tour course of the Badaling Great Wall, which was reputed to be more complete and spectacular than its thirteen other counterparts.…show more content…
While I quietly congratulated myself with this clever concoction, a thought began nagging at the back of my mind like an irritating mosquito bite. When it became obvious that I couldn’t wait for that thought to disappear, I gave it my attention: “How did the Chinese succeed at building the Great Wall, when they were forced into doing it?” At that time, I had been naïve enough to believe in several life facts were supposed to be accepted and adhered to, but not questioned. They ranged from tips and tricks on everyday behavior, such as the Golden Rule, to tenets on how one should live his or her life. One of the most important ones was that you could achieve great things only by doing what you were good at and liked. The Chinese could have been expert brick-layers, but I doubted they had been happy when they realized they had to bake and stack bricks until either disease, starvation, or overwork took…show more content…
There it lay below me, the first counterevidence: the grand graveyard occupied by thousands, if not, millions who were torn away from their families; those who were coerced into a labor camp; those who were sentenced to death on this barren mountaintop. Still, I couldn’t shake off that uncertain feeling. The cable car gave a shudder, a lurch, and the full sight of the Great Wall sprang into view. It lay draped over the rugged mountains like a dragon – ones often found in Chinese murals – that had forgotten its way back into the heaven. The setting sun painted each brick with a red hue, and it seemed to arise from a deep slumber. That moment, I realized – no, I knew that neither liking something nor being good at it mattered on the path towards greatness. The grandeur of the Great Wall was unmistakable.
Everyone has a Great Wall under construction, and each aspire to lengthen it, brick by brick throughout their lifetime. Sometimes, you will be beaten down by the merciless rain or a vicious fever; other times, you will be driven by the prospect of finishing the lifelong project, which others will admire and cherish. All the time, however, there will be the construction supervisor – your mother, teacher, or the world – who will whip you whenever you falter. I was no
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