We met in the morning at the eco center briefly before going to a picturesque little walking path that straddled a nearby stream. There we began a walking meditation, which consisted of four loops around a small pathway. For the first loop we focused on our sense of smell, then sight, then hearing, then touch. At least for me, isolating my senses made me realize how much stuff there is out there—the immense amount of life and activity in a forest, a tree, and even just one little leaf—and how its impossible for anybody to process or appreciate it fully; as I transitioned from sight to hearing I realized that I had completely missed the bell signaling the hour and had turned the cicadas’ sounds and birds’ chirping into background white noise.
After the walking meditation, we began the process of preparing for the mural we would paint in the afternoon. Every group of foreigners that stay in the Linshi village paints a mural on one of the house walls before they leave. Though the task at first seemed daunting, we slowly drew a mock-up for the mural. We planned to fill the 11 by 2.8 wall with a painting of four rivers (for the Sichuan province, which means four rivers in Mandarin), surrounded by a city on one side and a a forest on the other. At first, the painting went slowly and nervously. We didn’t know exactly what to do and were scared to mess it up. But soon we found our groove. Lots of families from the town stopped by: little kids helped paint and adults brought ice cream and a traditional Sichuan iced beverage. Julia Kruger had the genius idea of painting with her hands—soon half of us looked like miniature Hulks, covered head-to-toe in green paint. As the sun lowered in the sky, we all slowly began to make our way home for dinner. The mural ended up looking beautiful (if not a little messy—the little kids were not the most precise painters the world’s ever seen). Andrew Ting added an incredibly cute little panda hidden behind the painted bamboo forest. It was a great feeling to see locals walking home from work stunned to see what had previously been a boring white wall come alive with splashes of colors. Many of them were super excited, and stopped for awhile to talk about the painting.
All in all, the day was a 9/10 (minus one because there were an absolute tons of bugs joining in the mural-painting party).
– Anton Stengel