China, January 2010, The Travels of H. S. Stone


My name is H. S. Stone and I’m about to go on a journey through time, space, and consciousness. The H. S. stands forHieronymus Sanguine… or at least it does for the moment.

I flickered into awareness on a Monday evening in a bar in a restaurant in New Hampshire.  She was handing me to Him and a spark flew between their fingertips, right through the center of me. WHAM! Suddenly I was surrounded by energy, light, color, and the smell of steak tips and goat cheese. She said “Keep this with you for luck.”


I sat on the table and watched them chat quietly. While they spoke, huge, vivid bolts of energy would shoot out from one of them or the other, meeting above their heads or under the table and doing a silent crackling dance. They didn’t seem to notice. Or maybe they did and just tried to let it happen – not that they could have stopped it.

I spent the night on his nightstand beside his bed, throwing him some very strange dreams. He’s going on a journey and I’ll be right there with him.

Weds – January 27, 2010 7:05:20 AM EST

I woke to realize I had no idea where I was. I looked around an unfamiliar room. I was on a bench of some kind surrounded by tools, wires, and beads. I glanced down at the brightly colored baubles. Some were clear, some painted, many in odd shapes. There were several that were in the shape of a heart. I looked twice at them to see if they were awake. No.

“Nice,” I thought, “but I’m grateful that I’m a true stone.”

My shoulders had straps around them. Then I remembered. He had given me to a friend yesterday; Nancy. She makes jewelry.

“I need your help with something,” he said. “I want to take this on my trip but I would like to wear it around my neck do there’s no chance I could lose it.”

He had learned, through the years, to take special care of the things that meant a lot to him.

“Also, I’d prefer it rest on my chest rather than in my pocket.”

Nancy looked at me, then him, rather strangely. She turned me over, as if looking for my best side (which, of course, she didn’t see because the best side is the INside.) It occurred to me that she didn’t see how lovely I was. He saw her expression as well and we shared a silent chuckle.

“OK,” she agreed slowly. “I’ll see what I can do.”

So H. S. StoneHeld on a String Stone today,  is ready for the journey.

Thursday January 28, 2010 7:52:11 AM – Logan Airport, Boston.

It seems like just yesterday that I was just a stone; lifeless and unaware. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, a spark between two people birthed me into awareness.

What is the difference between me, now and then? I am the same size, shape, and weight. No microscope, no matter how powerful, could find a difference. And when whatever it was that was added passes, there will still appear to be no change. I will remain a Heart Shaped Stone but no longer be H. S. Stone.

What changed?

Could it be that the only significant change is that I have been seen?

Once observed, I exist as more than a pile of stuff. I was not “Heart Shaped” until I was seen, appreciated, and valued. Suddenly I was a part of the thoughts of others. Those thoughts are important and change the course of lives. Because I was seen I now have an effect and the universe will change its course, even if ever so slightly, because of me. I exist as a part of things.

So here I lie, resting against the center of His chest, his heart thrumming softly in the background. He is thinking about me now, and so is She.  A connection, growing more solid every day is coursing through the fact that I exist.

I am H. S. Stone and today I am a Happy Seen Stone.

The Dance of Life Singing God.
The Parts Adore the Whole.
                       -       Haiku S. Stone

Saturday Morning, January 30, 2010 – 5:00 AM- Hong Kong

It is a little before sunrise in Hong Kong. We are sitting in the hotel room, tiny by US standards, with the lights off so we can see the sunrise.  Gigantic floor-to –ceiling windows give us a clear view, mostly of the building next door.

He is challenged by the relativity of time. I am a stone and I am therefore, not. He received an email, just now – Saturday morning – from a client to whom he had promised a proposal by the end of last week; Friday at 5PM. At first He was annoyed at himself, then he realized he still had time to keep his promise and emailed the proposal so that the customer received it ‘yesterday.’

This illusion of time is so pervasive that it is almost impenetrable. I have the perspective to see it because I am a stone and I have been and will be in the same form for a long, long time in comparison to Him – yet even still the blink of an eye in relation to everything that is.

                “Two drops of water fall from a branch. They land on a leaf at exactly the same time…”

But in fact, they don’t land at the same time. Look closer. Measure more carefully and you’ll definitely find that one dropped before the other. Now go, in your imagination, well beyond your limited capacity to measure time and you’ll see that whole atomic millennia passed in the time between when the first drop landed and the second. From what perspective did Saturday Morning happen at the same time as Friday Afternoon? From what perspective did the creation of the Earth happen at the same time as two of its inhabitants touched their fingertips and passed a heart shaped stone?

(This is the concept of fractals applied to time. Fractals can be applied to relationship as well. More soon)

Why bother with all this? Because the value of ‘living in the present’ is the ability to experience joy, gratitude, love, an all the emotions which raise the vibration of universe – which is why we are here in the first place. If the scope of ‘the present’ can be expanded then our entire lifetime becomes a playground.

So, it’s 6:30 AM in Hong Kong. The sun has risen, without its typical spectacular entrance due to smog, clouds, and the fact that my view-crack does not, it seems, face east. Today we will go sailing in the harbor. A friend has asked us to meet him on the other side of the city; requiring what is expected to be an adventure on the subway system. We will leave enough time to get hopelessly, enjoyably, lost.

Where am I? I am 4000 miles directly beneath your feet. Can you feel me in your sole?

Not So Far,

– Hongkong Sunshine Stone.

Sunday  January 31, 2010 5:24:22 AM – Hong Kong

It’s Sunday morning.

The adventure on the Hong Kong subway system yesterday was a fun one. Not too challenging. Operating the ticketing system was a bit foreign. A subway system is, for the most part the same anywhere in the world. Like the people – far more ‘the same’ then they are ‘different.’

Then we went on a 5 hour boat ride through the harbors and islands of Hong Kong.

Our friend in Hong Kong is Mark Looram, a red-haired Irishman who has lived in the area for over 20 years. He was invited on this 12-person boat ride by his brother’s former girlfriend, Regina, for whom he promised to call in a favor and get her invited into an exclusive nightclub that night.

Regina is a ‘party girl,’ a travel agent living in Singapore visiting Hong Kong for the weekend.  She is in her early thirties, darker-skinned from the Philippines. She wears designer sunglasses and Angelia lips which find a practiced ‘purse’ position whenever a camera points her way. She is very pretty and very aware of it.

Yolanda, her best-friend filling the archetype of ‘sidekick, is an African American from New York also living in Singapore. She is half as pretty but, characteristically, twice as loud. I imagine that many men pursue Regina but settle for Yolanda. Such is the life of a sidekick.

Others on the boat we mostly friends of Reginas. Having partied with her until 3AM the night before, and survived their hangovers, they were full of drunken revelry stories.

Rrrrrohit, as it is pronounced, a latino stud was, perhaps, the main male attraction. Others included Alisha, a 250+ pound back woman who was, ironically, head of HR for Nike in China and her friend, Nicholas, a skinny Brit who was the head of one of Nike’s shoe divisions. There was a quiet couple; Kevin and Vivi, and several others; Asian Yuppies, perhaps, who were sent to China by their companies as a ‘right of passage.’ All well-educated, well-paid, and ready to jet-set.

The boat ride was wondrous. Buildings in Hong Kong are tall and thin, many with huge architectural holes in them so the Dragon from China can safely pass through. Often ten or twenty buildings would stand in a cluster like stalks of bamboo, each housing thousands on thousands of families in 500 square foot apartments.

                The party heated up as several people, especially Regina and Sue, tipped the scales of ‘too much to drink.’ The music got too loud for conversation. A few people wandered onto the quieter roof of the boat where they smoked and talked about the previous nights exploits. Several wanted to hear about the dog wheelchair and marvel at the stupidity of Americans.

It was an enjoyable ride, although a bit empty. People connected, but none at a heart level. It was nice to see Hong Kong.

Later that evening, Mark Looram took us to dinner. At one point, I was placed on the table by a cup of Hot Saki for a photo.

H. S. Stone and a cup of Saki

                This inspired Mark Looram to ask about it. In doing so, he opened the door to his own heart. He started, for the first time, to talk and ask about that which has true meaning and began to become a new best friend.

Warm Regards,

–       Hot Saki Stone.

Monday, February 1, 2010 5:54:46 AM –Hong Kong

In the movie “Rush Hour 3” Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker go into the “Heaven on Earth” massage parlor in Hong Kong. Once inside, they are presented with about a dozen bikini-clad fashion model oriental women and asked to choose one for their massage. Chris Tucker chooses not one, but three. Giggling, they circle around him…

With time on his own Sunday, after watching an episode of Animal Planet in which his invention was the star, Mark decided to get a massage. To his credit, he wanted to steer clear of the seedier joints hawked on the street with calls of “pretty young girls for you massage – cheap – big discount.” There was something wrong with that picture and he had no desire to find out what. He asked at the hotel desk for a reputable place.

Mark walked into the “Daily Massage” on Canton Road and was greeted by an attractive older woman dressed in a working smock. She brought him to the reception desk of a large well lit room with 30 armchairs and ottomans around several big screen TV’s. Behind one TV, he could glimpse several men getting foot massages.

At the reception desk, the woman presented him presented with a ‘menu’ of massage options printed on a stand up counter card. It gave prices and descriptions in English and Chinese.

  • 10 minute foot bath and 30 minute foot massage $125 HKD (about $16.00)
  • 30 minute foot massage with head rub $145
  • 45 full body massage $168
  • 45 minute full body massage with oil $198

He pointed at the foot massage and the full body massage. She nodded. Then, as he noticed that the ‘with oil’ was only a few dollars more, he gestured to that option.

“So Solly, Sir.” She turned to him and gave a small bow in apology, “That option is only man-to- man massage. You want?”

Normally, he is happy to get a massage from anyone practiced at the craft, but, he thought, this is Hong Kong. With visions of Heaven on Earth and no apology for being a man, he moved his finger back to the first option, without oil. The woman he was speaking to said something in Chinese to the woman behind the desk, thanked him, bowed, and left. He was somewhat relieved as this indicated that there was nothing more than a massage being offered here.

Minutes later he is seated in the armchair and a Chinese man asks him to roll up his pants and brings him a hot foot bath. He does so with gestures as, apparently, he speaks no English. The man places Mark’s feet in the low bucket. It feels very nice. About 10 minutes later he returns with hand towels and places them on Mark’s legs.

Mark, weighing the risk of seeming rude against the image of a large, hairy Chinese man massaging his body, signals to the woman behind the desk. “I asked to be massaged by a woman.” She didn’t appear to understand. Mark persevered. “Lady,” he said, hoping she understood the word. She did.

“Oh?” she said. “You want lady massage? OK. I change full body massage to lady. OK?” Mark nodded and relaxed as the man gave him an outstanding foot massage.

When the foot massage was done, his masseuse came to get him. She was a young, demure Chinese woman with a body more like a sumo wrestler than a fashion model. She was very nice and very strong; her massage was bone-deep – just the way Mark liked it.

So Hollywood gets to keep its fantasies while we get to endure the sweet realities of being human where fashion models stick to movie-making and the big, strong women give the best massages.

–       Hardly Sore Stone, Hong Kong.

Saturday, February 06, 2010 6:00 PM Shanghai

Phuket, Thailand is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. I remained almost entirely ignored while He zipped around the island on a mini motorbike following his friend, Mark Looram, who appeared to have no fear of taking sharp corners too quickly, skating between moving cars, driving on the sidewalk, and going the wrong way down one-way streets.

“Left is Right – Left is Right – Left Is Right” I kept shouting from my perch around his neck whenever he drove to remind him that, in Thailand, they drove on the left side of the road. Obviously, he did not hear me.

He drove around the island exploring towns, beaches, and restaurants. We went swimming, snorkeling, paddling, considered eating bugs, and did all the things that a resort location has to offer. The internet was almost non-existent so there was no way to get any work done.

“Would you like a snack?”    “No, thanks.”

All-in-all, a great mini-vacation.

Then Shanghai!

What a different world this is. A place where nobody says “It’s a free country” and is OK with state censoring dissident websites. Shanghai is a huge city, growing a breakneck speed, readying for its grand entrance to the world in May with the 2010 world expo.

He hired a local tour guide, Mei Li, a 28 year-old professional guide who works for the government tour company. She just had her child six months ago, a girl named Mu and aspires to move from tours to inside the office so she can spend more time with her daughter. As she is getting older, she is beginning to believe in Buddhism because “Sometimes,” she says “you go to a temple and pray for something and then it happens.”

Tour Guide Mei Li.

Mei was a delightful guide and companion. We saw a Buddhist Temple, had coffee at a Starbucks, toured a silk factory, an ancient garden, a Jade exhibition, Shanghai’s version of “Chinatown” and ate at a very authentic Shanghai ‘local’ restaurant that I don’t believe many outsiders would want to see; cold bone-in chicken and soup with tasty squares of chicken blood.

Everything here is a ‘symbol.’ The bat means luck, the crane, long life. There are amulets for health, avoiding traffic accidents, academics, relationship, and more. The baby dragon “Pixiu” means good fortune because it has a big mouth and no anus so it can keep everything it accumulates. Mei Li had a small one attached to her IPhone. Feng Shui is a powerful motivator in city architecture and home layout. She showed us a massive multi-level highway interchange held up by a huge thick column with nine golden dragons on it which were necessary to keep it standing. The people here seem to believe that the connection to the spiritual world is done through objects – or through the meaning of the objects.

Tomorrow is a free day. Nothing planned but to wander aimlessly through the city. He plans to take the subway – which will inevitably lead us someplace unexpected.

–       Happy Shanghai Stone

Sunday February 7, 2010 1:32:00 PM – Shanghai

He is taking a nap after a 3 hour walk down the Nanjing Road. I thought I’d take a moment and tell you some of the things I have learned so far.

  • Everywhere in the world, when a child and a parent look at one another, there is a special gleam in their eyes reserved for this one connection.
  • “Cell Yell” is a global phenomena and talking on a cell while driving needs to be illegal planet-wide.
  • Everywhere you go, there will people on the street offering to sell you a Rolex.
  • Food is very different everywhere you go but, overall, humans will eat almost anything – especially if it contains fat, sugar, and/or chocolate.
  • Taxi drivers drive like madmen – but they do it well.
  • Everyone loves their IPhones.

–       Happily Sleeping Stone

Thursday February 11, 2010 6:46 PM – Hong Kong

The past few days have been a string of one amazing moment after the next.

Monday morning we met Mark Looram and two of his employees, Joann and Jacqueline. We drove about four hours south to Ningbo. This is where the factory makes the dog wheelchairs. Ningbo is a city that, just 20 years ago, was completely unremarkable. Now, almost suddenly, a large city has sprung up. It seems that one of the attributes of a new city is that the people are not very good drivers. Driving down the wrong side road, the sidewalk, passing when an oncoming car would mean total destruction, and nearly running people over without looking back are all seemingly commonplace. Drivers use the four main automobile controls; the steering wheel, the brake, the accelerator, and the horn with equal force and fervor.

The manufacturing plant we were taken to was well outside the city area. We drove by collapsed, yet inhabited buildings, rice patties, people washing clothes in the canals, toothless old ladies riding in rickshaws, and an endless array of sights, smells, and sounds unlike any in my experience.

Perhaps a brilliant photographer could have captured a glimpse of this world, but I can’t imagine how.

The factory itself appeared to be relatively clean and well organized.

The boxes looked good and were being packaged by the few people remaining in the plant. Because the two-week Chinese New Year holiday begins in a few days, most of the staff had left. We were under a pressing deadline to get the product finished before 11 PM Wednesday. If they missed the deadline, the shipment would not happen until March 1st.

Mark began examining the contents of the box.


                Indeed, somehow the front harness had been sewn incorrectly – 500 of them – and were useless. There was just enough time to re-sew the harnesses and after a great deal of hemming and hawing (pun intended), the finished product was packed and ready to go with barely hours to spare.

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Mark had said before coming to China. “The nightmare would be that the wheelchairs are paid for, shipped, and arrive at the office and are unusable for one reason or another.  I would be out of money, out of stock, and have no product to sell.”

Thus, the disaster was averted because we were here.

Suppertime in Ningbo

The owners of the factory took us to their favorite local restaurant. We walked into a huge room filled with gigantic fish tanks. The ‘waitress’ then followed us around while we picked the animals we wanted to eat. They were then cooked, or not in the case of the raw food, and brought to us for dinner.

Dinner was served on a large turntable. Food was picked off by fingers and chopsticks as it passed by. The night was filled with completely unique images and tastes; some delightful, and others not to be repeated knowingly.

Wednesday Night, back to Hong Kong for a Thursday adventure to remember.

The largest sitting Buddha in the world is atop a mountain outside Hong Kong. It can be reached by aerial tram. For a few dollars extra, a glass bottom tram is available.

The tram took us high above the city, deep into the clouds where we greeted by a gigantic statue, breathtaking scenery, leisurely roaming oxen, and a deeply moving presentation about the life of Siddhartha and the wisdom of the Buddha.

A calligraphic sculpture of the Heart Sutra on 33 split trees at the end of the “Wisdom Path.”

A dog on the walk down the Wisdom Path.

Mark’s thoughts as he walked down the Wisdom Path.

“I have come to realize that nothing is what it is Like. Nothing is its name and no description of a thing can be that thing. To describe oneness is not to experience it, but simply to give a one dimensional representation of one single facet of oneness. As Buddha speaks of The Middle Way, the Four Noble Truths, and the Noble Eightfold Path, he speaks of what enlightenment isLike. We must, alone, take the grand leap from there to what enlightenment is.”

–       Happy Spirit Stone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010 – Hong Kong

My last days on this side of the planet were filled with wonder and delight. Jacqueline, a new friend, introduced some culinary wonders; steamed jellyfish and pig’s intestines, and took us to a Chinese New Year’s Celebration. Imagine Times Square on New Years Eve with 10 times more people and bearable weather. Afterwards, we walked through the flower markets and brought a New Year’s bouquet of yellow Gladiolas to her mom.

Jacqueline is an incredibly intelligent, pretty, thoughtful woman who seems to be caught between two cultures. At the Western end, she is invited and encouraged to be whomever she chooses, but is charged with responsibility of figuring that out herself. At the Eastern end she knows who she is supposed to be — as directed by family, tradition, and society –but doesn’t seem to want to climb into that box. She’s a happy spirit, though.

Pig’s intestines, center. Typically not fed to elderly people because it’s hard to digest.

The Pig’s intenstines had a rubbery texture. The Jellyfish had a ‘crunch’ but without the ‘crispy’ that westerners tend to favor. Describing tastes is no easier then trying to describe colors. Both remained, primarily, on the plate. The pork, though, was delicious.

Then a quick trip with Mark Looram on the ferry to Macau, Hong Kong’s answer to Las Vegas. Dinner at Morton’s.

Monday, February 15, 2010 4:14 AM Eastern Standard Time – Home


Sunday was a long day… and that’s not the typical subjective description often applied to days of traveling. Sunday actually lasted thirty seven hours as we traveled East again from Hong Kong to Tokyo to New York completing a total circumnavigation of the globe.

One Stone circling around another – perhaps I now have more in common with the Moon.

Home, unchanged, is now occupied by someone new – someone who has been changed by the people he has met, new friends, the things he has seen, the things he has eaten, and the thoughts that have crossed his mind.

(Is this true of every day at a level so subtle we accord it no notice?)

He has learned that the species he identifies with spans a far wider scope and path than he knew. While being far more different than he imagined, people are even more ‘the same’ than he suspected.

In the absence of the ability to connect with his friends and family, mostly due to the time difference, he felt far away – even though it was the same phone call he has always made. It’s as if technology has made the physical distance into nothing but the difference in time cannot be diminished. No matter how easy it is to dial, the fact that we are awake when you are asleep – we experience the sunrise while your sun sets – is a barrier. He has learned that calling his friends from the same time zone, where “Good Morning” has a common meaning  feels closer then calling from a half day away.

He has learned that food, everywhere, means different things to different people and that the only food that is always to be avoided is the tuna sandwich at the Newark airport.

He has learned that journaling in the third person is difficult, somewhat annoying at times, and probably unnecessary; though serving well, I hope, as a sweet tribute to a treasured gift from a new friend.

So, like Dorothy, he taps his heels on three airplanes and says:

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

and we’re suddenly back in a favorite bed, between favorite sheets, in rooms where every aspect is completely familiar. There’s nothing to explore here except the new mind of the explorer.

–       Home Safely Stone.