Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What no one tells us about China

Last night, my friend Allan and I had dinner at Barbuto, an Italian place in the West Village that I have been meaning to try for a year. Allan is going away for 6 months - off to Singapore for work. I'm a little jealous of Allan - part of me misses flying off to a new place every week. And then I remind myself that I should be careful what I wish for.

Allan is one of my dearest friends from business school. If you had to 5 people from your life who were cheering for you, you'd want Allan there. His loyalty to his friends is something to be admired. And his work ethic would leave any American student in disbelief. He got an MBA and a half out of Darden; he put the rest of us to shame. Usually Allan and I talk about books and work ad what every crazy little projects that are taking my time these days. But last night turned to the topic of romantic relationships. Allan is confused by women. I smiled. 

Allan explained to me that in China, things are not complicated. Love included. People live a simple and diligent life. In a planned economy, there isn't all this choice that we have here in the U.S. Nothing is really all that trying. An absence of angst.

And now when I reflect back on those Olympics Games and those inspiring, creative beyond measure, ceremonies that preceded and closed them, I understand how they came to be so precise, so perfect. They were singularly focused, the entire nation. They are unencumbered by a multitude of choices and complications. 

Now, I'm not advocating for a planned economy. I'm saying that we have more to learn from the Chinese people than we ever imagined. Their creativity and their passion is built around simplicity. And the question I'm left with is I wonder if we, as Americans, could get out of our own and get focused. It might be out only hope out of so many problems that are plaguing us.  

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