-7 degrees on a bustling street in downtown Beijing wasn’t exactly one of the best ways to enjoy a holiday. But on that faithful Thursday afternoon, after getting out of the subway near the Water Cube, I found myself freezing almost to death alongside a badly congested street lined with trumpeting cars. The wind was more than chilly and albeit the layers of warmers I had on me, I still shivered – bearably unbearable I call it. A few paces down the road sent me scooting shamelessly into a lingerie shop – not to shop but to evade that Siberian wind that invaded that part of Beijing.
Moments later, the wind mellowed and I made way out of the little shop to commence my short walk to the Water Cube. It wasn’t before long when a second gust came forth. I swore in agony but there were no shelters nearby, no second lingerie shop or even a hideous public toilet. So I continued walking, hoping the chill will vanish in a bit after the wind finds its way elsewhere.
By the bank of a canal, or river – I have no clue – just a frozen channel of water, I sauntered in agony towards my destination when a cheerful voice from a nearby bench greeted me. He was barely 70 I reckoned but all well and fit, and not the least afraid of the cold. In a non-accented mother tongue, I greeted him well and told him it was a really cold day and that I was almost frozen to death – no exaggeration – frozen to death. He chortled and said the reason why I was feeling cold was because of the way I put on my scarf – you would have clearly guessed – the wrong way. It was loose and not properly slung over the neckline, enabling the chill to enter at ease into my inner layers. He then offered to put it on correctly for me, and assured that it will dispel the cold even if the winds came by for another visit.
I gleefully accepted his kind offer. Within moments, he took off the scarf and redid upon my neck, then followed my a tight snap – the whole scarf was properly secured onto my neck – lifting my head high up and was powerfully tight so as to disallow the cold to infiltrate into my inner layers. For a moment I thought I looked like E.T – neck up and high but it did make a precise difference – the wind was a threat no more.
I thanked the old man before heading off along the riverside again. “E.T. go home… E.T. go home… E.T. go home…” Not before long, the wind wrecked havoc over and over again but my E.T. scarf knot fended it off perfectly, and the chill was drastically reduced.
I should be happy but I was not. It was pretty uncomfortable and walking around looking like E.T. wasn’t exactly the proudest thing in downtown Beijing. No doubt I was well protected from the harsh and chilly wind, but every pace was a chore and every step was a discomfort. After no more than ten minutes, I finally undid the scarf and brought it back to square one. And after no more than another ten minutes, the chill came back, and I am back to my “shiveration”.
But I was happy.
In life, happiness always comes with a price. And sometimes, we have to discard the safe and comfortable zones to find this Xanadu. And for that day, the badly knotted scarf in a -7 degree winter weather, was my happiness. I was glad I chose it and made the rest of my afternoon a terribly cold, yet a most wonderful one.
Happiness is always a choice. So choose a way to put on the scarf which makes you happy.