This is a guest post by Mark Bonsignore, my sexy man who challenges me everyday to be a better person. (Sappy moment…ssh don’t tell anyone hah)

Dear Diary its Marky again (haha jk)

So it’s been 7 months now. Seven months since the last time I sat out on a patio on a weekend afternoon with my German Sheppard Sparky, enjoying the Wall Street Journal with a glass of Tuscany’s finest, smelling the soft air breeze of fresh tulips, listening to the sounds of the water splash off the rocks of my meditation garden, basking in the spring sun, waiting for my wife and kids to come back from Sunday school while listening to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony emerging from my garden speakers. Ahhh.

YEA RIGHT

Its been seven months since I scarfed down a hotdog at Yankee Stadium, went to a summer festival in the park with live music, sat around the TV screen with a pair of guys who argue about sports rivalries, walked down a boardwalk and grabbed a slice of pizza bigger than my face, drove a car with the windows down blasting 80’s rock, taken a 100 year old subway to a 100 year old building to go to work…seen my friends, seen my home….

But, its also been seven months filled withadventure and life changing experiences. I’ve traveled throughout Asia, met friends of all walks of life, realized how driven a country can be when the world’s watching, eaten things I only thought existed in Indiana Jones, seen some of the world’s most beautiful sights, seen some of the worst, found out some of the most important things in life, fell in love again…

However, at some moments it can get pretty hard. Just yesterday I was thinking about how annoying and frustrating things can be here. I have little money, work is getting tedious, I have no idea where I’ll be 7 months from now and who the hell invented the Chinese language. But then days like today, I got to work and read my daily Lo-Is-In-China blog which I truly believe is the BEST web site on the internet (free advertisement! haha) and I realized how ridiculous my thoughts were. I am sitting in a Shanghai high-rise, over-looking the Bund and Pudong Riverfront working for an engineering firm whose sole priority is to develop eco-cities in China. Besides that, I got the girl of my dreams living with me in Beijing, a group of awesome friends to talk shit about China with, and a long over-due extra large pizza topped with some catching up to do with family and friends back home. How awesome is that?!?

Now I love the life talks but I feel Lauren does a great job of that and this is her site (as if I’m on the “Lauren Show” sipping a cup of coffee) so I’m not going to take away any of that thunder. However, I would like to give some shout-outs to my mom, dad and brother, whom all, without their college tuition, automobiles, plane flights, food, loans, and extremist insight, none of this would have been possible. But on a serious note, I am the person I am today because of their love, guidance and support and I take offense to anyone who is selfish enough to think otherwise regarding their own families; I am very lucky to have such a wonderful family.

Tissues to the side, time to discuss what this blog is all about: life, living in China, and stayn’ off coke. Haha sorry it sounded funny in my head…

As a young adult, whose theme song when he enters a room is “Born in the USA (no really it’s my ring tone and I have a permit to play it whenever I see fit), I am finally starting to be proud of my homeland. (The feeling I had when I studied abroad in Italy in 2008 was that most of the people were not too fond of the States due to their decision making and lack of political common sense…not naming names…you know the name…I didn’t say it…I could, but I didn’t, did you say it?). But I feel like many of my fellow expats back home, surprisingly still some of the younger generation (older generation, no worries, you will die off soon haha totally jk) haven’t quite grasped the whole “thinking logically or progressively”. Some people’s attitudes are “well I was born this way, so I am this way”, or “that’s not the right or smart thing to do” and when asked why, the answer is commonly “well, that’s just the way things are done”. This should never be acceptable.

It’s strange to see how a few people’s actions and opinions can stereotype an entire culture, region, or race. Looking at China for example, “ooh Communist country, you gunna stay inside and lock the doors?”. I have never felt more safe than in the friendly confines of my Fisher-Price funded stucco apartment, honestly. I have been to many places across the world and a few things remain the same with all of them, including China: great people, food, architecture, and history. People separate each other based on pencil drawn borders and forget that we are all basically very similar. Sure China has some issues to take care of, treating people as equals, being responsible for its ignorance and raping of the environment (all just jokes people ha), and so on but I’m sure the U.S. has some issues to resolve too before too many fingers are pointed.

I came to China in September of 2009. I was a fresh college graduate with a major in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture and like the rest of my fellow grads was working at a restaurant. Actually I was the manager of one of the best Sushi restaurants in New York City making great pay and living in the greatest city in the world…but those aren’t dreams, money isn’t a dream, at least not mine. There was no time to enjoy the city, my friends, and most importantly my girlfriend. The people I was helping weren’t homeless migrants who needed a community built, or a city on the rise, they were spoiled kids from Long Island, fashion snobs from 5th Avenue, and old housewives that had nothing else to do but spend money and complain, and again those aren’t dreams. No, so one night I sat in my room, a 10X10 box of a 4 bedroom in Woodside, Queens, opened the drawer of my $20 IKEA desk and found a card my brother had sent me the day I graduated college. It read “There are so many people in the world who are willing to stand by and do nothing to make a change, I can’t tell you how proud I am to have a brother that is one of those people who is willing to stand out.” (and as manly as I am, I’m in an office surrounded by Chinese men trying to hold back some tears as I do every time I read the card). So as a guess… what did you guys think I did…? Yup, an add came up, “Looking for Masters Graduate to work for eco-city design firm in China”,…mmm why not. I hadn’t touched a design in 4 months and have a bachelor degree in Urban Affairs and Planning but I was willing to take the risk, the uncertainty of what may happen. Sure I could fail, go to China, it could be like Mars, I had never been to Asia. Or I could go to the other side of the world with an open mind, be given the opportunity to see how other people think about life, the world.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I give you my 7 months. The time frame of my life where I went through uncertainty, heartache, failures, success, life and love and not a day goes by that I don’t remember what it felt like to not take risks, to not question, to not live. Up and down, no matter what happens next, I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world. I hope that this touches each and every one of you in a special way, even those that are hurting now, are uncertain or just need a helping hand.

So who cares if the title of your job isn’t Senior Engineer or Director of Operations? All that name means is a cubicle and a computer. Who cares if you’ve been laid off and can’t find work? Follow your dreams, go outside, breath in the fresh air (not in Beijing please ha), travel, smoke a joint, laugh, make love, question your peers, volunteer, eat healthy, exercise, create a foundation, help a friend, live. Be proud to be an entrepreneur, have your own original ideas and step over anyone in your way that says you can’t do it because all you have to do is DO IT and if your even thinking about it you’ve taken the first step.

So I ask all of you, be the change you want to see in the world.

….Thanks Greg

Lauren, for all the great life talks we’ve had…

Mark Bonsignore :o)

About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

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