Each Monday I’ll post a picture of a place I’ve been to or lived in, along with some reflections to go with it. This week it is from Shanghai, China, a place I lived in for three years.
Organised chaos. These are probably the two words that would best describe my experience at one of the fabric markets in Shanghai. It was an experience as I had just arrived in China, just started my sewing ventures (very short lived) and I wanted to find fabric and bobbins and zippers and needles and more in one place. And boy, did I find everything in one place.
I was overwhelmed, didn’t know where to look and after passing stall after stall, I finally approached one with my broken Mandarin and *ahem* extensive vocabulary “uuhhhhh….Wo yao….uhhhh….yi ge….hmmmm….zhege” (I would like one of ….these) as I point to the item (apologies for lack of accents on the words, however I can guarantee you when I spoke there was ZERO correct intonation).
The vendor mumbled off some numbers and I nodded without understanding how much I was actually going to pay (not much as it turned out) and moved aside as he went to help someone else. As this person rattled off a list of items she wanted, the vendor seamlessly (ah! unintended pun) went about gathering the items that seemed hidden amongst the chaos of his stall.
I realised, wait…is what I am seeing chaos…or is it something of beauty? This man knows his stall inside and out, and the way he went about searching for the items was like a dance amongst the myriad of knick knacks, as he bowed under hanging fabric, twirled to grab thread to his left and gracefully bent down to find something hiding under a desk.
And this is what the photo above represents – yes, it’s chaos. But amongst the chaos is a way of living that to me seemed messy or frustrating, but to someone else, it was a second home that only he knew how to navigate.
Perhaps this is sometimes the perspective we need to take when confronted with a scene. Is it chaos because WE aren’t used to it? And if we aren’t, what small element can we take and turn into a positive thought or experience?
Challenge the way you are taught to think, and perhaps the beauty will emerge.