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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
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Beauty's Mirror

I’m broiling on the balcony of my Oregon tree house.

Getting down and dirty after 1,001 years away from the typewriter.

Covered in construction dust needing oil it’s a small portable dangerous machine.  It’s capable of transforming life energies and weaving adventures. Threads follow the needle.

I am a peripatetic traveler, literary outlaw, photographer and journalist.

I’m lucky to get it down now and make sense of it later.

I’m a mirror in the mandala of my labyrinth. I am Labrys, from the Greek for a two-headed axe. I write with passion and vision. Short fast and deadly.

Punctuation is a nail.

My mirror reflects everything.

Beauty needs no tongue.

I’m confidant and self-reliant. I explore the human condition. Visual storytelling.

Human energies, frequencies and vibrations reflect languages, lives and attitudes.

I absorb being, joy, anger, jealousy, ignorance, desire, fear, greed, passion and suffering.

Hurl your thunderbolt unto death.

Meditate on the process of your death.

Suffering is an illusion.

The world is an illusion.

Grasping is suffering.

Values, attitudes, joy, belief systems and dreams evolve in my mirror.  

Your mask eats your face.

My mirror is free of dust.

I evolve emotional trust, wisdom, peace and love with truth and compassion.

I experience forgiveness with emotional honesty.

Creativity dances in language.

These truths don’t surprise you after 1,001 years of wandering.

Everything you know is a lie.

Keep a diamond in your mind.



The world is made of stories not atoms

I’m filled with wild passion.

A mind-expanding drug of curiosity, delight and freedom increases my awareness.

The eternal present is a long now.

My power is big medicine. It’s a sacred connection to Gaia after 60,000 years of paying attention to details.

I observe a spider meticulously wrapping an insect with thin microfilaments. Spider recycles her old web on the periphery. They haul it to a diamond center. It vibrates in a soft breeze.

Does the spider have any intention when building the web of catching the insect?

Does the flying insect have the intention of finding the web?

Where does instinct end and intention begin?

One instinct is to sit in meditation. Another instinct is to take risks.


To do great things you must take great risks and suffer greatly.

JUMP over the abyss.

My serenity is not purchased over the counter with pharmaceutical coupons. No dust collects on my mirror reflecting an elegant universe in my heart. In my expanded state I am a breath of fire, a lightning bolt sacrificing fear, doubt and uncertainty.

I shatter myth.

Lightning bleeds off my charge creating transformation.

I am an unemployed fortuneteller. I am ahead of the future. The day after tomorrow belongs to me.

I am a gravedigger/archaeologist. Soil is my groundwork. Look at my hands. I know two things. See good dirt under fingernails. I am the soft sand of sleep calming tortured hearts.

Abracadabra! My feminine nature hurls her lightning bolt even unto death. She is a death deferred. She is on death row with a short reprieve. My tranquility is a lethal injection of travel.

It’s 100 degrees in blistering sun. I work hard and fast pounding typewriter keys, digging graves, discovering artifacts.

I dust history off history. I destroy the present to discover the future.

I hammer keys in a new form of construction business. Before bits, bytes and gadgets.

The world is made of stories, not atoms.

Shovels plow archaeological deserts reflecting passion and curiosity. An archaeologist inside a tomb waving Diogenes’s lamp yells, “Every bit we dig out tells a little more about the story.” They unearth a story revealing communities, customs and cultures.

A digger explains how it works. “This stuff we roughly estimate is between 1,800 to 1,990 years old. We use a method called carbon dating. It measures the amount of carbon-14 remaining in ancient material.”

“What is it?”

“Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon found in all organic matter. Scientists determine the age of fossils and artifacts by comparing test results to an international standard. We’ll send it to a lab for analysis.”

“Beautiful. Let me know what you discover, what you learn.”

Tourists find. Travelers discover.

Explorers sift discoveries through mesh screens. A delicate camel hairbrush caresses historical fragments. They dig toward 8,000 well-rested Chinese terra-cotta warriors in battle formation standing ready for excavation.

Chariots, horses and supplies with trapped Mandarin survivor voices echo toward the surface causing vibrational shifts.

Confucian scholars join them. Buried since 210 B.C., guarding Qin Shi-huang-di, the first Emperor of China, their collective consciousness breath creates tremor waves near Xian, the capital of Imperial China.

Warriors stand silent on the edge of the Gobi desert along the Silk Road. Voices sing swirling word storms. They hear brushes shovels, earth moving equipment and hammering keys approach their hidden truth.

“They are coming for us,” said a warrior.

In my inner garden of crimson stimulus I tend wild roses. Nostrils scent sense.

I have a responsibility to the thorns.


Temple of Complete Reality

Zeynep showed Lucky how to swim with gigantic sea turtles off Gili Air is-land.

They did a sitting mediation deep in clear blue water reflecting surface sunbeams.

They practiced a slow walking meditation in soft sand.

They took three slow steps with “in” breath - arrived.

Three steps with “out” breath - home.

If your legs get heavy walk with your heart, she said. Everything we do is a meditation. One is one’s own refuge, who else could be the refuge?

They meditated on the process of their death.

Practice 10,000 times until you’ve got it, she said.

Dive deep exploring underwater life below the surface of appearances.

Let’s have a little adventure.

I wove a magic carpet, Z said. Show me a place you remember. Let’s go.

They flew to The Temple of Complete Reality on Qinchengshan Mountain in Sichuan. It was a series of 2,000-year old Taoist temples in red orange yellow green autumn foliage.

Taoism’s home in China personified balance and harmony. They climbed for 2.5 hours. Cold winds on a clear day. They scampered up mossy stone steps and steep angled dirt paths through primal forests.  

They met Mountain Girl, ten, selling tea where a trail forked into forests. When you come to a fork in the path take it, she said. She joined them. She didn’t want anything. She wasn’t hustling. She lived in the mountain.

She diverted them away from whining obnoxious Han tourists.

She described medicinal plants and herbs. She fed them delicious yellow and red berries. Babbling tales about plants, trees, rivers and animals she shared a story about mountain spirits.

Once three men chased me through the forest. I met a snake. “Please help me escape from men chasing me,” I said to the snake. “It turned into a slim beautiful woman and said, ‘don’t be afraid. I will help you.’ 

“She took me down the mountain, saving me from the bad men. Then she turned back into a snake and disappeared into the forest.”  

They explored a series of temples. Statues, incense, prayers and spirit energies. Inner and outer visions extended in four directions.

They shared rice, chicken, bread and water near the summit. Stone carved twin turtles and dragons guarded the entrance. The main temple was a reddish brown ornate rising sculpture. Crimson incense smoke curled into sky.

Four Chinese characters read:

Clouds circle this temple

Clouds know us by now, said Mountain Girl. 

They circumnavigated rising levels of experience on narrow wooden steps. Below them a golden statue of Lao Tzu rode a wild ox. Yin/Yang.

An old woman offered medallions of the cosmic symbol on red thread. Mountain Girl and Zeynep selected one to wear around their necks. They descended. Mountain girl fingered her threaded talisman.

They stopped at a temple for tea. A young nun washed teacups. “I’ve been here fifteen years. I clean, pray, read, meditate, talk with monks and travelers and do my work. I am focused on my goal.  My goal is to reach the root below the surface.”

Her path was direct with heart-mind intention.

They bought Mountain Girl food to take home and walked to her bike. He gifted her a white khata scarf from Tibet.

Zeynep gave her a hug. “Here’s a poem by Rumi.”

Your love lifts my soul from the body to the sky

And you lift me up out of the two worlds.

I want your sun to reach my raindrops,

So your heat can raise my soul upward like a cloud.

“Thanks,” said Mountain Girl. “Every heartbeat is an eternal rhythm of universal possibilities. May you enjoy wonder, health, abundance, gratitude, and contentment.”


Mountain girl and Vivian


Haiku Otres

Life is a beach then you fly.

You sit on a bamboo chair next to bald water sport mannequins wearing snorkeling masks, Lycra shorts, inflatable vests and dusty flippers. They are chained to the wall to prevent mermaids, nymphs and water sprite thieves.

Birds twitter in hydra grandma trees. Slow gentle blue-green waves brush a long empty shore day after day.

Across a red dirt road are bamboo, wood and fancy shacks disguised as guesthouses and restaurants.

Signs litter little red road: Island Tours, Laundry Service, Boat Trips, Late Night Pizza, Sand Removal Renovation, Transport & More, Green House Effect (with excellent bookstore), Mushroom Villas, Dance Until You Die, My Kind of Place, Sandy Crotch Heaven, Barefoot Only the Lonely, European Spoken Here, Massage To Go, WE Serve Sad Depressed Super Serious Fat White Rich Humans Like Russian Mafia and Rude Pushy Inconsiderate Chinese, We Are All Refugees When Everything IS Said and Done 24/7.

Digs run $15-100 a night. Gypsies, Backpackers, Europeans, Japanese and Chinese.

Selfie nirvana.

Here I am on the shore with arms raised. Here I am drinking beer with friends. Here I am all wet. Here I am doing absolutely nothing in particular and everything in general. Here I am in a sitting meditation zoning into universal mindfulness. Here I am in a net of light. I am a rainbow.

Ice coffee runs $1-1.50.  Pay For View. At an upscale Italian joint a ravioli dinner of spinach filled pasta smothered with carbonara sauce, side of garlic bread, tonic water and espresso is $12.65. Smiles are gratuitous.

Cheaper eats decorate red road. Rice is nice.

At 6:15 a.m. you stash your bags in a simple bamboo room, cut through a distorted distracted disrupted deserted zone of empty rattan chairs to the beach. It stretches from northern Sin City to expensive southern resorts. Local m/f teams rake mourning sand.

Sand complements musical melodic waves breaking on the shore day after day. You enjoy a slow walking meditation on a long empty beach. Breathing in - out. Water music laps ankles. Yellow dawn streaks sky. You salute the sun. Celebrate another day of living.

Three green islands float long ago and far away on an event horizon. Bright red, blue and yellow tourist boats plant anchors.

Engines hum.

Day unfolds as a lotus grows from mud.

International couples stroll sand staring inland at strangers staring back. Shades of ignorance.

The majority of walking eyes survey tables, chairs, people and eateries. Strangers all. Scarce few see sea.

No drugs. No weapons. Leave your ego at the door.

Sweating runners with pulse armbands tread grains.

Workers set up beach lounges, switch on expresso machines, fire up kitchen stoves, hack ice, replenish beer supplies.

Waves erase footprints. Sleeping dogs cur into sand.

The beach orchestra builds its daily tempo.

A young Italian woman unfolds a blue towel on sand. She lies face down. Pushing up with her arms she assumes a yoga posture eyes straight ahead on a blue green sea. Her spine weaves vertebrae like a wave. Calm and focused.

Visitors stagger from beds, walk foam, eat, stare at waves evolving from a flat lined horizon holding green island hideouts. People plan to sit or go. Yes go. Go for a walk, a swim, adventure. Discover reality below the surface of appearances. Dive deeper than unconscious.

Nail girls protected by large floppy hats seeking cuticles needing trim canvass sand sun lovers.

String theory bracelet girls traverse grains of the universe. Boys ply sunglasses. The future is bright.

A girl balancing a bamboo platter of pineapples, mangoes, bananas, paring knife, plastic bags and sharp sticks prowls sand from dawn to dusk.

People watch people watching people. It's the thing - look without understanding.

A narrow blue and white boat arrives on sand. A boy throws out a rusty anchor.

Backpackers from islands unload kilos of memories, dreams and reflections. Boatman throws five large empty water bottles toward land grab.

Mid-day sun shimmers above shaded tables as massage clients smothered with oil feel muscled women knead bronze skin tone epidermis as children laugh, run and play in surf near extreme serious a-dolts and retirees wondering how they ended up in paradise removed from frozen Europe hearing dulcimer hammers at a nearby five-story cement project.

Swimmers plunge into H2O covering 70% of Earth.

Couples embrace cold drinks behind mirrored sunglasses.

Fat white Russians slobber UV 30 on skin and drink cold beer.

99.9 % of beach people stare at phones.

Strangers accustomed to cement pavement feel sand. Danger. Watch your step. Cautious sensation.

Babel languages whisper a Sappho wind singing iambic pentameter odes with save face time.

Spit in the ocean.

Restless orange diamond light crashes into sunset.

Red sun, white waves, blue sky, green islands. Floating world.

Silver waves lap shore.

White crescent moon hangs by a thread.

Stars sing with their light. I am twinkling.

Create your sandcastle.

Rinse and repeat.

A brown butterfly dances with green waves singing sand.


Room 317, Yang-en University, Fujian, China

He liked her immediately.

She knew how to wear her sadness with dignity. It was a warm, comfortable security blanket woven in threaded hopes, dreams, lies, beauty and love. He didn’t feel pity for her potential rising like a bird leaves a branch toward higher sky.

Her meditation involved multiple personalities - student, wife, lover, worker, artist, laborer, dancer, commodity broker and teacher. She played an actress pretending to be someone else in her life’s play. Do not break character.

She was all he had at the moment. Time stopped for him swallowing all the tears she’d never cry. Perhaps it was deeply ingrained Confucian cultural modesty masks forbidding her the luxury of being open, real, honest, and human. Hide your true face, said Mask. Your face eats your mask.


She lived in a time warp where emotions were controlled and rationed by parents, Party leaders and invisible social ghosts.

A tight feeling constricted her throat. She wanted to scream, ”Help me please, I am dying of infinite inexorable sadness.”

No one heard her silent scream. Peasants, students and teachers were busy, busy, busy staring at cell phones reading/texting 5,000-year old characters. Word pictures.

Ideograms symbolized the idea of a thing without the sound used to articulate it. A day in the life peering down, down, down at a green ionized electronic glowing screen. Their universe encapsulated screaming screened electrons.

They were auditioning for walk-on roles as student and teacher character actors at a private Chinese business university of 15,000 students.

They needed to stand out, to find the essence of robotic behavior where daring wasn’t fatal. Express their inner emotional state with abject distraction. Where their self-esteem and courage nurtured support, respect and empathy in their longing.

They had latent desire.

Their struggle was for jobs, money and social position.

They’d accept financial filial piety responsibility for aging parents. If married they’d support four parents. The iron rice bowl theory of a guaranteed collective security network collected dust in history’s rubbish bin. It was discarded with state housing, state jobs, and state health care.

She lived in a Brave New World.

She knew this and failed to accept it. Her consciousness shift grasped fragmentary what ifs and maybes.

“If students spent as much time looking forward as they do behind they’d make amazing profound progress,” she thought, approaching old campus.

She inhaled the sweet scent of yellow, pink and red wild roses outside barred windowed classrooms near the stinking W.C. basement where school guards planted green vegetables in trash strewn plots.

She trimmed dead stems with her Tibetan knife, caressed a thorn piercing her heart and severed one fresh rose. She carried it through a gate and up uneven cement stairs evolving into a paradigm shift. She was always early and well prepared.

White chalk dust covered the teacher’s podium in room 317. She lived, breathed, swallowed and spoke white chalk dust. On a broken blue table in the corner was a small green plastic bucket filled with water. Dust floated on the surface.

She opened the window, picked up a torn crumpled rag, soaked it and squeezed it out.

She placed the rose in a cup of water and put it on the podium.

Stubs and nubs of white chalk littered the podium. She collected fragments of academic history, an ancient educational memory scattered by a previous teacher. They always left a mess of exculpatory evidence.

She placed them in a box of discarded chalk next to the water bowl and blew white dust scattering flying powder elements into the air dispersing particles. After wiping down the podium, she rinsed and squeezed out the rag, hanging it to dry on the windowsill. She looked out.

Rolling green Fujian hills and a large blue lake escaped her eyes. An old weather-beaten woman farmer behind a red brick wall tilled soil to plant vegetables. Motorbikes heavy with woven wicker baskets spilling vegetables, toilet paper, apples, gas canister and wide-eyed children chugged along a cracked cement road.

Ancient blue one-cylinder rusty miniature dump trucks loaded with white granite blocks rumbled past fuming diesel exhaust, throwing red clay dust into the air where it collided with white chalk dust escaping room 317.


It was a poor landlocked rural peasant infected paradise.

The Boss died last year. She attended his ceremony in the Great Hall at his campus villa. She wore white as a sign of respect for the dead. Her ghost persona sang a comfortable sadness past rows of flowers to the casket. She bowed. His thin white mustache face reflected glass smudged with fingerprints.

He reminded her of a Tang poet living in solitude inside a long Chinese painting where wind whispered songs with trees, mountains and stars.

After his death and passing tribute, students began holding hands in public. His private army of guards lost their power to intimidate, coerce and extort money from adolescents displaying affection in public. Guards roared around on bikes with flashing red lights looking important and, if motivated to survive, begged for jobs slinging hash, cleaning tables, and peeling vegetables behind student restaurants.

Hundreds of local villagers, officials, educational specialists, farmers, teachers and drones followed the funeral procession to a hill overlooking the campus.

They put him in the ground and exploded fireworks to scare away running capitalist dogs and ghosts. They returned to fields, kitchens, gardens, offices and classrooms.

A year later the school started building a grand tomb for their dead leader on a hill above the computer center building. It cost $261,591,79.

Small change.

Turning away from the window she selected yellow, blue, orange, and green chalk from a seldom-used box.

She wrote on the blackboard:

I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.

She drew a picture of a face with bubble words - “I am an autodidact. You are responsible for your learning.”

She splashed rainbows, suns, faces, laughter's wild memory and imaginary abstract colors on a green canvas, barely scratching the surface of appearances.

An obnoxious loud rusty metal bell clanged for fifteen seconds. She turned and faced 100 university students. They were physically eighteen with the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old. This disparity explained why the university treated them like children to keep them in their childlike space place.

They had “Sports Meetings” on the “Playground.”

They had “Nap” time after lunch.

Maybe twenty-five cared about learning. Most just wanted to pass. Some might ask questions and develop a life long love for learning, knowledge and wisdom.

Anyone asking why was reported by spies to authorities and disappeared. Poof.

A rare one possessed an innate creative playful inquisitive nature. The majority slept with their eyes open. Lights on and no one home paradigm.

She smiled. Her sadness evaporated. She inhaled delicious dust and spoke in tongues.

“What color are your dreams?”

“Stop making sense!” yelled a student. “What’s the context? Critical thinking skills with humor and curiosity are forbidden! ”

They whined in unison, “We are worried about our marks, not learning the material. 60 is heaven. 59 is hello.”

“People are more affected by how they feel than by what they understand,” she said.

“We know so much and understand so little,” said Curious, a bright star in the universe. "I want to be a waif when I grow up. A real person with dignity and self-respect.”

During meditation they heard an authoritarian Mandarin voice yelling next door.

“The bent nail gets hammered down!”

A Century is Nothing