Hiking Mt. Emei – a midlife crisis cure part I
Youngsters have a lot of passion. They are always eager to try anything new. Take my 10-year-old son, John: he is curious about everything and never stops asking questions. A lot of older people, on the other hand, have lost the strength of will to try new things. But what about a middle-aged man like me? I'm not ready to succumb to the apathy of aging yet. In fact, I'm unlikely to ever reach an age when I no longer want to experience new things or challenge myself. Recently, I climbed Mt. Emei, a popular tourist destination in China's Sichuan Province, and took John with me. Looking back, I realize it was not only a healthy way to deal with a budding midlife crisis, but also one of the best father and son decisions I've made in a long time.
Mt. Emei is called Emei Shan in Chinese. “Shan” means "mountain." Mt. Emei is one of China’s four holy Buddhist Mountains. At 3.099m (10167.2 ft.), Mt. Emei is the highest of the four holy Buddhist Mountains in China - a challenging climb for father and son alike. Otherwise, I wouldn't have taken so much time off from work during this busy period of my life to climb a mountain. No, I needed a challenge, and Mt. Emei - a perfect destination for tourists who want to stay in shape - provided me with a vacation solution. And, it is my theory that if I stay active during my working years, I'll still be fit enough to leap out of my wheelchair to answer the call of adrenaline when I am 80 years old and retired.
Speaking of old age, Mt. Emei enjoys a long and varied history. Emei has been inhabited as far back as 10, 000 years ago. According to historical reports Emperor Xuanyuan traveled to Mt. Emei to practice Taoism 5,000 years ago. 1,900 years ago, a Buddhist monk built the first Buddhist monastery in China on Mt. Emei, originating Buddhism in Yangtze Valley. Historical reports from the 16th and 17th century also hint at martial arts being practiced at monasteries on Mt. Emei, which would make Mt. Emei the birthplace of Chinese boxing, not Shaolin temple. On Dec. 6, 1996, UNESCO made Mt. Emei a World Cultural and Heritage Site along with the Leshan Giant Buddha (the largest stone Buddha statue in the world) in the neighboring town of Leshan.
Today, Mt. Emei boasts no less than 76 Buddhist temples from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The architecture of these temples cleverly ignores the traditional style of earlier Buddhist temples in order to incorporate the beauty of Mt. Emei's natural surroundings. Some of the temples are built on terraces, while others are built on stilts. Natural surroundings include thick forests, stately trees, majestic waterfalls and verdant vegetation. The Qing Dynasty poet Tong Zhongyue claimed Mt. Emei consisted of 10 scenic sights. Today, the list has been expanded to include many new scenic areas, often with colorful names, such as The Flying Waterfall Hanging over the Dragon Gate and The Spring beside the Tiger Brook.
Continue my experience to Part II – A Father’s Dream