China’s Mountain Of Inspiration

Thursday, April 1, 2010

For so long, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason I was attracted to Asia, China in particular, until I read The Financial Times‘ article about Lushan. Things in that part of the world are given names that simply no longer exist anymore, like the Cave of Immortals. Perhaps, places don’t exist anymore that deserve names of such stature.

I can just picture some old-timer cowboy here in Montana giving me directions that sound something like, “Now just head past the Cave of Immortals and swing a left onto Infinite Tranquility Boulevard. Then, you want to go over Inner Harmony Hill and take the right fork onto Enlightened Serenity Road. It should be on your left, you can’t miss it.” Yeah, right.

Lushon is a mist-shrouded, magical mountain range that has been visited by poets, painters, and Chinese rulers for eons. The village on the summit of Lushan, now called Guling,  has been the inspiration and backdrop for people like Nobel Prize-winning American writer Pearl Buck, the English novelist Mervyn Peake, even Mao himself. For good reason, too.

The real attraction, when the mist decides to part, is the glorious surroundings that brought those remarkable people to this one location. I’m sure there are only a handful of places in the world that can evoke the kind of mystical inspiration Lushon seems to.

When I complained to my Chinese companion about the fog, he recited a verse written by Su Shi almost 1,000 years ago: “Lushan’s true face I cannot see, Because I am inside its mists.”

A name like Cave of Immortals doesn’t sound too far off, now, does it?

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