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Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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Get it down and done.


Get to the verb.

Indentured savant.



In late June 2014 a Thai woman met a male friend at a guesthouse in Luang Prabang, Laos.

She lived with her German boyfriend in Nong Kieu where they owned a small meditation and yoga resort on the Nam Ou River seven hours north.

The river flows 448 kilometers from China through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam to the sea.

He was polishing a narrative nonfiction book to be abandoned in the fall. The Language Company.

He'd just completed an eight month volunteer English experience - human character development - featuring fun, laughter, chess, drawing, sharing, teamwork and critical thinking skills facilitating JOY & COURAGE in Phonsavan near The Plain of Jars with 100 H'mong kids and young adults.

A Danish man has an Eco-lodge, she said. He's looking for someone to teach his staff English. Give him a call.

Come up, said Eskil. You can stay here and help out. Extra management eyes. Teach English. Thanks for the opportunity.

He went up river and sat down for two months. Eskil, his wife Nit and Amy, a three-year daughter left for Thailand where she'd birth a boy. We'll be back in early September with Emil. It means 'rival' in Latin.

At Riverside he helped fifteen staff.

I need help.

English in - English out. Vocabulary. Courage to speak.

Engage, study, activate. Smile. Laugh. Draw your dream.

Write first speak second. Helps you develop courage.

I am here to help you make mistakes.

What goes in the ear comes out as language.

Express your feelings in a soft Buddhist culture. No ego.

Song preceded speech. Let's dance.

We see in pictures.

What is your dream?

To be.

Say, a woman with three kids, working in housekeeping said, My dream is to be a typist. A secretary.

Her friend Joy said, My dream is to be drawing.

Amphone, a young widow who'd lost her husband three years ago in a village motorcycle accident leaving her with two daughters, 15 and 18 said, My dream is to be learning English.

A boy from a remote village working in the restaurant said, My dream is to be a singer.

His friend, a cook said, My dream is to be a soldier and fire a gun.

Tieng, the ten year-old young brother of a receptionist said, My dream is to be a football player.

Daleo, a female cook said, My dream is for my husband to be a businessman. My daughter will be a teacher, my son a lawyer.

Leong, a high school student said, My dream is to be a teacher and have a small school for children here in Nong Kieu.

Peng the receptionist said, My dream is to open a bakery. I'm going to sell coffee, cakes, cookies, and strawberry ice dreams.

Ice dreams are delicious, said Tieng. They sustain you.

Please draw your dream. Color it.

To be.

The staff expanded dreams. "My dream is to be..."

A teacher.

A veterinarian.

A businesswoman.

A policeman.

A secretary.

An artist.

A bird.

Speaking English.

Tourists passed through Riverside.

They stayed 2-3 days exploring villages up river, crawling through deep dark unconscious caves where Lao lived for nine years when Americans bombed them back to the Stone Age; trekking through mud with leeches sucking hemoglobin, climbing vertical granite mountains overcoming unknown fears and relaxing.

Lao became refugees in Thailand. 200,000 plus immigrated to Minnesota. Colder than the Plain of Jars in Jan you wary.

This is the life, said an Italian girl morphing into a blue, yellow and white monarch butterfly with wings of light. She flew away on a soft breeze.

Tourists find. Travelers discover.

Traveling isn't fun, said a French father to his whining son, it's an adventure. Yeah, yeah, said son, smashing his fragile heart on a sheer granite stone face rising over a roaring brown river feeling loss and confusion leading to wisdom and delight. Play. What am I doing in this primitive natural place dancing with orange, blue, black, brown, white fluttering butterflies? I could be home playing with electronics. My dad drags me around Earth. Life's a bitch. Fat chance said dad. We are here to get out of our comfort zone. Shake rattle and roll.

How did I grow said a fluttering black and blue butterfly. White orange sunsets gathered clouds for a conference. Sky mind, cloud thoughts.

Three neurotic American women sat in the restaurant one morning. Dalao the cook said, the buffet is here, gesturing to the sideboard. Oh, said one woman, we were waiting for someone to bring us something. So it goes in their prejudicial world of expectations, sense of entitlement, profound paradoxes and innate lazy stupidity.

Ha, ha, said laughter laughing, life's fateful joke is on you. Do it yourself.

The stranger said eating well is important for a balanced diet. They found this funny. Momentarily. Time stopped.

Lapsing into personal quicksand they loaded up china with apples, bananas, dragon fruit, bacon, potatoes, eggs, yogurt, and bread. Expectations slathered their small short Laos experience with anxiety. They resumed looking at gadgets. No speak.

Lost human connection.

Isolation, alienation, boredom and fear's patience noted their neurosis. I feel alone, said Isolation staring at a mirror seeking Beauty who had no tongue. She was the mother of death.

I don't fit in, said Alienation. Smiling talking visitors appear to know someone. Nobody talks to me or likes me. Boredom said, don't be fooled by appearances, they are all strangers to themselves. Schizophrenics seek solace in the company of other strangers. I'm bored. Pure and simple and I need an AI electronic fix.

What's AI, said Fear's Patience. Authentic individuality, said Boredom looking for time. I know it's around here somewhere I know I packed it. I should travel lighter being light.

Space folded.

The Yankee Doodle Dandies plugged personal electronic gadget DNA into a wi-fi signal. They ignored each other. Now we feel human.

One morning a Spanish man said, my boys love playing in the mud here. We don't have mud in Barcelona only cement. I've never seen them so happy for hours.

A relaxed European man seeing life's river flowing smiled, This is my Shangria-la. There have been a couple of places where I feel this. I don't need to go anywhere. I sit contemplating the river, mountains. I explore. I meet the people. I experience the essence of real life here. I slow. Down.

A French father of two kids said, this is a positive experience for my children. They've seen people making things with their hands; baskets, clothing, boats, bamboo walls for homes, slingshots for hunting birds. My kids' artificial world is pre-packaged junk in supermarkets and department stores with labels, "Made in China." They've seen the real world here. How people live.

One morning the English facilitator watched the man and his wife, son and daughter eating. The boy, 15, got up walked around the table and gave his father a hug. The father's right arm embraced his son. They held each other for eternity. The stranger cried seeing this love.

We are decompressing from cities, said a French mother of three, 4, 10, 12. Sharp mountains wearing forests welcomed floating clouds. Rising water above, flowing water below.

How wonderful, she said, three weeks with no electronics.

The stranger and family sailed up the Nam Ou. They stopped near a village in a jungle. They walked through sand and up a steep path. The four-year old studied trails of black ants.

Bamboo homes, orange satellite dishes, packed earth, forests, community. Local girls gravitated to new friends, holding hands, laughing, plaiting French hair, and sharing flowers. Language lived boundaries. Childhood. Instinct.

Village girls walked new friends to the shore to wave goodbye. Our future is now. They returned to the jungle past footprints collecting memories.

Kids sailed through narrow passages of streaked rocks, past rising karst formations, thick jungles and tenuous black gnarled roots submerged in rapid brown water to Supjam, a weaving village.

Shy women displayed their cotton and silk scarves, rainbows of color waved on bamboo poles outside homes. Soft sell smile.

Sky watered Earth. Shelter from the storm.

Rain lashed everything. Looms clacked as girls compressed threads. Black and white ducklings waddled through puddles enamoring kids. Mother bought a white diamond silk scarf. The facilitator discovered a blue piece. Children mesmerized by looms, hands and feet playing gentle treadle rhythms. Music.

Water melodies danced off PSP roofs.

Puddles muddy paths. Life.

The world is a village.

Cry me a river, I'd like to see you cry me a river.

I'm tired of crying a river over you.

Now you say you love me.

The current carried them down river through rapids. Father snapped images of jungles, trees, mountains, river, moments in time. We'll look at these memories when we get home. Freeze a memory.

They evolved in a Zen painting.

Be the water.

Be the brush.

Be the ink.

Be the paper.

River said, where are you going? Children sang, row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. Mountains, clouds, forests, spiders, butterflies joined the chorus.

In the afternoon the kids showed up with notebooks, pens, pencils, watercolors, crayons, glue and ticket stubs. They joined each other in the empty restaurant overlooking Nam Ou and rising green forests slagging granite piercing blue sky. White clouds laughed.

Everyone created a dream. Holistic non-verbal play. Doing. Sharing. Laughing. Being.

Solemn, morose, weary, cynical adults loaded with heavy deep real life backpacks wandered in. They looked around with conditioned fear and uncertainty.

Common travel currency.

Adults grabbed their point-and-shoot, ran to the balcony, framed a mountain in clouds, laughing brown river and squeezed the trigger. Ok, we're finished. Been there done dat. Look and leave people.

They did not relax share their thoughts, observations and feelings. They had a schedule, a plan. Timeless death chased them out. Gotta catch the next minivan to paradise. It's around the corner, said Nam Ou.

It's about how you feel, said the 4-year old, not what you understand. See these foolish adults? They're all carrying traumatized attitudes and behavior from homes in England, Italy, Mars. Aliens all.

They eat like animals. Staring at their food. They stare at their kid's plates, like at home. Conversations about food, taste. Finish everything or someone will steal it, said a phobic mother.

17,000 children die from starvation every day.

Conversations conversed about the past, where are you from, where have you been, where are you going? No conversations about here. Now. Rushing around. Anxious heavy weight carried TIME.

They need an attitude adjustment. Big time. No time.

Time is a strung out pimp looking for an exit.

Death watches with amusement speaking of the future.

Poverty & Loneliness equals misery, said the four-year old. I know what I don't know.

Yeah, said the ten-year old. They need to slow down. Decompress. Get real. Take a walk through a jungle. Meet leeches. Wander into a cave where the Lao hid from American B-52 bombers. Nine years is a long time to live in a cave. What is light? I am blind. We are all blind. Blinded by ego, discrimination, comparisons, metaphors, fear, and insecurity. Monkey mind runs the show, loves the circus of moment to moment stimulation. Regrets and shadows of illusions.

Fragments are all I trust.

I need to jump.

I need to fly.

Open my cage. It's open. Your mind is closed. What is mind? Spinning on its axis. Empty. Flowing clouds know me by now.

I am Crazy Cloud. I am a calm lunatic.

Everything you know is a lie.

What is the answer?

The question.

I am a human bird. I am free to fly, free to fall, free to fail. Better to free fall outside the cage.

I have nothing to say and I'm saying it.

In my silence only my voice is missing.

They need, really need to get down and dirty in the mud and meadows of life said the genius of 4. Get a life. Dance with orange and white, blue, black, tiger striped butterflies fluttering in your face. Learn to sit quiet, meditating on the impermanence of life. Oh my.

Fear is a killer, said the twelve-year old writing a chapter about her experience in Supjam. I felt alive today. Really alive. I loved hanging out with the village girls, holding hands, laughing, and feeling their fingers in my hair. I felt free. They have so much love it was amazing.

The more I see the less I know.

The kids were present. Zen. Mindfulness.

They teach others orange slashing sunsets dancing in blue skies illuminating solemn peaks. Peak experience.

We haven't learned anything about art in 50,000 years, said a genius.

Adults are alienated, depressed, lonely, anxious and totally disconnected from nature, said the four-year old. They think nature is something to be conquered, bought and sold. Manipulated. They stare at phones. Sad.

Yeah, said a kid absorbing mountains, clouds, and river. I'd like to see them try with the futility of longing, attachment and suffering to put this river and mountains and butterflies and spiders weaving diamond webs in a neat little Christmas gift. Ha, said her sister, stash it under the evergreen tree. We'd open it and magic majestic landscapes and rivers would flood our home, village, town, city, country and continent. We'd float way.

Floating is the way.

The map is not the territory.

What's the password?

Mickey Mouse.

Curious and curiouser. We see through our eyes.

I need help.

One life, no plan many adventures.

Patient mirror is empty.

We don't learn. We grow.

West Kid: where did I come from?

East Kid: how did I grow?

How did I get here? By walking.

Look. Don't think.

You can't step in the same river twice, said the four-year old teacher. I am a camera. Optics. Aperture. I paint with light. I am light.

This is the day of my dreams. I am a dream waiting to be discovered.

Swimming strong in life’s current leading her tribe up river to safety away from adults, civilization and its discontents she waved, See you in the next life. We are all passing through. Flow with your glow. If you see Beauty share a hug for emotional wellbeing.

Exiles travel light.

No destination never lost.