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An American's Perspective of Possibility, the Lack Thereof, and Spirituality in China

Updated on June 19, 2015

China's Flag


So "1986"

I represented the United States on a Hong Kong and China, goodwill tennis tour in 1986. People often refer to passe´ trends, notions, and ideologies to be “So ’86,” compared to today. However, the critical timing of this journey abroad became a springboard towards self-reflection that has formulated my present outlook.

Possibility and the Lack Thereof

The foreign odyssey made me aware of possibility and the lack thereof, regarding both pre-destiny and free will. This dualism of opportunity and stagnation exists in any life situation we may encounter. There is also a grey area where people can manipulate the balance between free will and pre-destiny, even when this influence is partial and finite.

In China, I noticed that there was a stark contrast in resources between varying segments of the dense population (like everywhere else in the world, including the United States).
Furthermore, I experienced overseas, in the throngs of athletic competition, that humans can actualize potential through pursuing excellence. An industrious work ethic of practice, practice, and additional practice may pay big dividends on match day.

The #1 player on the traveling 16's, Hong Kong International Tennis Team beat me 6-3. He got tremendous, game-enhancing experience that boosted his on-court skills, confidence (and consequent tournament results) by playing the top junior tennis players throughout Europe. I was yet unranked in Northern California, but I understood from my in-the-ballpark score that it was conceivable for me to eventually develop a classical game over time, with enough persistence.

Even though I lost, I felt like I belonged on the same court with the fellow. After all, he did not “double goose egg” me (which would have relegated me to the less prestigious Travel Section of the newspaper, instead of the Sports Section, where my rightful score at least boasted affirmative digits!)

China Tournament Particulars

Walking out of the air-conditioned hotel in Hong Kong was like an oven engulfment. When I served the tennis ball, there was such great humidity that my racquet accidentally flew out of my hands, across the net like a tomahawk! My opponent had to dodge out of the way. I didn't have any neutralizing saw dust in my pocket, like Ivan Lendl, to restrict unnecessary racquet “launchings.”

That match at the Jubilee Sports Center was one of the last times I subsequently smashed my racquet on the court in rebellious frustration. Maybe the fact that the racquet that I broke was my U.S.A. Sports Development teammate’s instead of my own, expedited my refrain from anonymously hacking away at future astro turf.

The night after I was eliminated, I wandered the sparsely packed streets of Hong Kong by myself until three a.m.. Internally sulking a bit, but too excited to let my loss ruin the experience, I listened with headphones on my Sony Walkman to a cassette of Mike and The Mechanics' "Silent Running," "Taken In," and "All I Need is a Miracle." These masterful tunes symbolized my tennis odyssey’s compelling, yet imperfect exertion in the past and present. They also unlocked the aspiration for a future culmination of comfortable proficiency. It felt good to roam, more or less unhindered for a while, on a foreign Court.


The China team's officials perched atop the umpire chairs with their enormously wide-brimmed, straw hats and barked out questionable line calls in favor of the Chinese. My losing, albeit reasonably close results gave me the incentive to train harder the next few years to ready myself for collegiate tennis.

Incidentally, all of the international players from the East and West boasted tremendous camaraderie with each other. Everyone respected one another, we politely kidded around after our matches (even about when I crushed one instrument and involuntarily let loose another, airborne!), and we smiled at our admiring, cross-cultural fans. I particularly remember one adoring fan who had the silkiest, long hair that I never had another pleasant occasion to marvel in more depth!

Parallel Between Sports and Politics

If only leaders of nations, like the overly partial umpires, can learn to display the same humanitarian fairness as the majority of the decent people (plus friendly athletes and fans) who reside in their respective countries, there might never be war.

The Free Market in Canton, China

The Free Market in Canton, China was where the villagers bartered for food. It reminded me of the lack of possibility. Unlike our swanky White Swan Hotel next to 5 a.m., Tai Chi practitioners alongst the Pearl River, the Free Market boasted squalid conditions. Dead and decapitated, moldy dogs and cats were in cages. One seller had his dirty feet in peanuts and raisins--until I realized upon closer inspection that the raisins were moving!

Economic Statistics of United States v. China

I'm sure the village Free Markets have begun disappearing, as China is now a predominant world power. China’s present, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as the United States’ GDP, are the best two in the world. Nevertheless, most of China’s wealth is consumed by State Owned Enterprises, whom are given extremely low interest rates by Chinese banks, unlike the extremely high interest rates offered to average Chinese citizens.

Nonetheless, China’s per capita income is currently $7,000, compared to the United States‘ per capita income of $51,000. Still, deficiencies have the potential to blossom, as evidenced by China’s top-of-the-line, GDP.


Tolerance of Religion in China v. Religion in United States

When religion preaches appreciation for the respective faiths of others and self-help through divine appeal, it can be a beneficial vehicle for human improvement, regardless of the sect.

In today’s China, the five officially sanctioned religions are state-monitored Buddhism, Islam, Three-Self Patriotic Movement, Protestantism, and Catholicism. These groups are tolerated. However, they are subject to strict oversight by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, which forcibly incorporates patriotism to the ruling Communist Party within religious doctrines and sermons. Communist party members are required to remain atheists.

Unsanctioned religious groups in China are deemed threats to the elite Communists. “Illegal” convocations include house churches, Falun Gong, Tibetan Buddhists, underground Catholics, and Uyghur Muslims. (When I applied my law school training to the benefit of immigrants, I won a brief before the Board of Immigration Appeals for a Chinese National who came to the United States on a fraudulent visa, who was persecuted for her Falun Gong practices.) The above religious practitioners face disparate amounts of imprisonment, torture, and forced religious conversion.

Thus, the practice of organized spirituality in China is restricted and “genetically modified.” Let us hope for a change of heart by the Far East authorities.

We should be grateful that freedom of religion and “separation between church and state” in America are supposed to be fundamental rights that are guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution and Supreme Court. We must ensure that our respective spiritual practices will always be fully protected by the government and population--especially for minority believers who might otherwise become disenfranchised without these supposedly guaranteed protections. Acceptance of religious freedom for all Americans without worry of persecution is one of the primary reasons the Founding Fathers left England for the United States, “The Land of the Free.” It is Un-American to envision a United States that is not fully protective of religious and spiritual liberties for all of the disparate faiths and spiritualities that do no harm to each other. Sectarian violence and intolerance is antithetical to what this country stands for. Racial equality is similarly paramount.

Potential in Life and Tennis

My journey overseas prompted me to realize that my human and tennis potential could evolve on a vastly grander stage. Please read The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter regarding progressive, social conscience advocacy platforms that I find virtually irrefutable, my spin on persona theory that combats extreme adversity from the inside, the competitive sports mindset from both a universal and anecdotal lens, the philosophy behind primarily, non-denominational spirituality from a lay person’s, analytical perspective, and spatial aesthetics of the great Bay Area.
All of the aforementioned facets of human consciousness tackle adversity from within, regardless of external thwarts or realities. My interior bubble is especially relevant to the plight of a romantic celibate!

My autobiographical novel illuminates Big Picture concepts and is avant-garde, edgy, poetic, revelatory, and inspirational. It serves as a black book of worldly strategy to help readers steamroll obstacles of their choice.

Sometimes it takes physically or emotionally leaving hardly changing circumstances to return with fresh insights and gratitude. The Asia odyssey made me aware of possibility and the lack thereof-- both within and outside of my control. Although bad news always exists if we dwell on it, we should seek out the optimism embedded in possibility.

After all, the true magic of spirituality illuminates consistent optimism amidst plenty of reasons for pessimism. For example, two teenagers from different cultures, from opposite regions of the globe, can engage a smoking, accurate tennis rally in a joint effort to keep matters afloat as long as possible.
Sources: Poverty Stats and Facts, Internet; China’s Emerging Capitalist Economy, Internet; Freedom of Religion in China, Wikipedia; Per Capita Income United States, Internet; List of Countries by GDP Per Capita,; my observations and insights of human nature.


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