An An, My Meeting With The Giant Panda
An An, the world’s oldest known giant male panda died at age 35, (105 Human years) making him the world’s oldest known male giant panda. Now you may say, ‘Bird, why are you talking about a panda bear? What has that got to do with mindfulness, stress relief, mental health and all that other wellness stuff you talk about?’
To that I say, ‘Ahhhhhhh but you see, my bringing this up is about soooo many things wellness including self-care, stress relief and mindfulness!’ It’s about JOY, LIVIN’ YOUR BEST LIFE, FOLLOWING YOUR GUT AND MEETING YOUR DREAMS.
I have had the opportunity to travel a great deal through my work as a choreographer and master teacher. Going to faraway places on the globe I had only read about in books as a child provided me with realizing many childhood dreams. Meeting a panda bear was definitely on the docket. Manifestation is all about Patience, Faith and Intention which is a Conscious part of the Wellness Journey.
You’re Going To Do, What?
I was teaching for the Jean M. Wong School on the island of Central right in the heart of things. Steps away from the train, ferry, buses and Victoria’s Peak, so needless to say, I was in HEAVEN! That first week, I debated on what to do with my first weekend off but when I found out about Ocean Park, AND that there were not one but TWO panda bears there, well, it was a no-brainer.
“Why I mean WHY do you want to go all the way over there to see some..PANDA BEARS???” That was the main question I was asked by the faculty. It was like, you’ve flown half-way around the world to Hong Kone and on your first day off you’re going to see WHAT? PANDA BEARS?! I mean, folks were downright incredulous. Now if I had said I wanted to go to Ocean Park, that would’ve been one thing, but to go all the way to the other end of the island alone on a bus just to see pandas, well no doubt I was basically insane.
Yeah it was a long trip. But an EXCITING ONE. Me, sitting on the top deck of the double-decker, and I think I was the only one on the bus! I sat up front on the right side just as gleeful as my 7 year old self in the mud makin’ mud pies. That is, until the road narrowed on the steep cliff and I realized that on the curves I was basically sitting OVER the edge of said cliff and it was a LONNNNGGGG ass way down!
But that temporary fear didn’t stop my JoyFlow as I took in every single sight I could on both sides of the bus. Though I had traveled extensively up to that point, Hong Kong was a whole ‘notha experience unlike even Japan. I was ooo-ing and ahhh-ing like crazy! The pics below caused one such outburst–the building below was designed with Feng Shui so The Dragon could go through…
When I saw this I was truly like a kid with my mouth open, at that point I had never seen anything like it.
A Date with Destiny?
Don’t remember how long that trip was, but I loved it and once I got to the park, as impressive as it looked my mind was set on one thing, where are the panda bears? I seem to remember it being nowhere near the entrance and it took a long minute to get there. It was early morning, not too long after the park opened and it was already hot as Hades and steamy. When I got to the site of the pandas there were some tourists from the mainland already standing in front of the area but enough empty space right at the railing to see unimpeded. AWESOMMMMMMME…
But the area was empty. Took me a minute to grasp the sit-chee-a-shun…then I looked up to see a sign at the top of the hill where the doorway was saying “Jia Jia (the female panda) will not be coming out today” or something to that effect. There was also a sign at An An’s door. I stood there. Dumbfounded.
It seemed like I couldn’t wrap my mind around it…there must be some mistake. There must be. I AM HERE, so therefore the pandas must be here. I stood numb. Then it hit me:
WHAT? No pandas?
I came all this way for NO PANDAS?
THEY’RE NOT COMING OUT?
My heart was broken. I wasn’t gonna see a panda bear in person. wah.
Too stubborn to walk away, I was still standing dazed in my spot when I heard a shout! The tourists were yelling and cheering. My gaze goes up to the doorway, lo and behold, AN AN WAS MAKING HIS DESCENT DOWN THE HILL!! I watched in stunnation as he made his way and plopped himself down RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! He bypassed the group over to my right and sat in front of me to begin eating his bamboo.
IT WAS MAGICAL. For me, the girl from Brooklyn with Dreams, saw one Manifest in a BIG way. I stood there taking pictures for what seemed a lifetime. An An sat there the entire time.
What’s funny about that trip, when I went back to teach that Monday, everybody wanted to know what I thought. And it became a thing, every end of the week I was asked what I planned to do for the weekend. Every start of the week I was asked what I did and where I went. They began to Appreciate their city through my eyes and through my excitement.
And then we zip forward to the present time…
A Bit of Background
My dude, who is always in the know, told me in the morning about this giant panda dying. I was like, “wait, what is his name???? If it’s An An I will scream.” And it was.
An An and Jia Jia were gifts from the Chinese government to the people of Hong Kong in 1997, the year it returned to their jurisdiction from being a colony of Great Britain. Known to live to about 20 years in the wild, An An was the oldest known male as I mentioned above. Jia Jia passed in 2016 at 38, the oldest known female giant panda.
Spiritually, some of the Essences that pandas represent are Appreciation, Abundance, Playfulness, and Enjoying Life. For the Chinese, pandas represent good luck and happiness. To me, they’re just MAGIC.
Do more of the things that you Love regardless of what others think. And the more you do that, the more Love will Flow to and Through You.
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