The move to China has been a giant step forward for my personal development and ambition to travel throughout Asia, and subsequently, the world. A stepping stone to unlocking my whole identity and further developing my character.
Throughout this new adventure, thus far, I've made an effort to consume local products by way of supporting street vendors. The first was a lady selling jewelry, from which I bought a bullet pendant necklace.
Typically, I don't wear jewelry, or accessorize much. Not for any particular reason beyond not seeing a practical side to it. However this isn't about practicality. It's about my creativity -- something I've slowly come to self-acknowledge over the past year.
Shortly after finding my first necklace, I found others, which I shared photos of with friends back home.
A friend of mine expressed interest in the bullet necklace and I said I'd find another for him.
About a week later, while doing some exploring, I stumbled upon some more street vendors selling similar necklaces.
I glanced at a few and messaged my buddy while the owner was pestering me to make a purchase in Mandarin, no doubt offering some kind of deal. With my friend having not yet replied, given it was after midnight in Canada, I waited and walked down to the next vendor on the bridge. Initially I didn't see much in the way of bullet offerings at the second vendor and continued my journey to do some yoga in a nearby park.
When my friend replied shortly thereafter, I ventured back to the merchants and prepped to start negotiating.
To my surprise, the second merchant had the same necklace as mine, after reviewing her offerings. I asked how much, she responded in Mandarin and with three fingers raised (30¥/$6).
Alright. Not bad. I run to the other side of the bridge and review what the first guy has before purchasing. He has similar options, though the bullets aren't as nice or as large. I motion him over to see what he offers.
He picks one up, smaller than mine, and pulls out his phone to the calculator and types in 100, then erases it, and types in 120.
This guy, thinks 'cause I'm a foreigner I don't know what I'm doing. Lol. I mean, I can't blame him. Everyone has to make a buck and this guy does this for a living. After conversion the cost is $20, seems average to pay in Canada. But equilibrium must be met, and it wasn't going to be met with him, at least not at that price. I laugh, and the look on his face indicated he knew I knew what he was doing. He immediately drops to 50¥. Still not worth it for the bullets which were smaller than my own.
I measure the largest bullet he has to my finger, make a mental note, and run back to the second merchant. To my discovery, the largest bullet she has is the exact size as mine! Perfect! I try my luck and ask for a price of 25¥, she agrees, I pay, and our business complete. Free market economics everyone!
I start to walk back to the park, happy to avoid the aggression of the first merchant. But along the way, I pear over the rail of the bridge and notice this fisherman. He is standing up and using two oars to slowly make his way upstream. I notice the opportunity for a great photo (see above).
I've been listening to this phenomenal audiobook called The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, world chess grandmaster and two time world champion in push hands, which has just finished, and he is being interviewed by Tim Ferriss. A favourite author of mine, and friend of Josh Waitzkin.
They'd just previously discussed the difference between the coward and the hero, mainly, the differences between how the two handle their respective fears. The words still freshly ringing in my ears. I stopped in my tracks. I really wanted the fisherman photo, but didn't want to go back past the first merchant after buying the necklace from the second. I stood paralyzed. I'm often the person who avoids confrontation, and here this merchant likely just witnessed my business with his competition and would no doubt freak out on me or press even harder for a sale.
Calculating the difference between taking a longer way around to avoid the first merchant, but at the cost of potentially missing the photo opportunity, I held my ground. What to do? The third option? Face the first merchant and reject his advances. Who am I if I can't walk past a dude approaching me in Mandarin for a desperate sale?!
I recognized this as fear, that I can be one of two options. The coward, who is controlled my his fear and both literally and figuratively, run from my fear. Or, face it, use it to my advantage and not let it have control over me and be the hero. My own hero.
Recently, as noted from developing my yoga practice, the thing we want to do least, is what we should do most. Coupled with the recent observations from the audiobook, I rejected my temporary paralysis and walked to the first merchant in chase of the photo opportunity awaiting me on the other side. Objective. Barriers. Timeline. All present.
Take a moment and reflect on how this symbolizes the fear many have in the way to obtaining a goal or dream. It's literally no different conceptually, just in scale, perhaps even not so.
Now several steps away, I anticipate his approach the moment he sees me. Our eyes lock and he jumps up in a fervent effort to capture my business. He gestures the necklace, and quotes me 40, I shake my head and hand, continuously walking. He shouts out 30, I repeat, then 20! I continue walking and refusing.
He throws his hands in the air, and sits down frustrated, knowing he just lost to his competitor.
As much as I respect him trying to make a buck to support himself, he took a calculated risk jacking up the price to a foreigner. And I believe that if I didn't know market conditions, and accepted his jacked up price, this would be fair economics. After all, surely nobody would willingly pay for something they thought was over priced, no matter if it actually is, or not. If the buyer perceives value at the price offered, it's a fair sale. It is the responsibility of the buyer to make an informed decision.
In this case, no matter if he offered me the necklace for 10¥ I still wouldn't have purchased it. Not when he didn't have exactly what I was looking for. His bargaining chip of price is useless when his competition offered what I was really seeking -- the same necklace as mine.
This merchant could have jacked up the price to 120¥ and made a solid case for the necklace, had she known I wanted that one specific piece so badly. But she didn't, and as such, I was able to negotiate a better price.
Ah, the universal language of money, and how it talks.
After passing the first merchant, I noticed the fear was gone. It was nothing. A figment of my imagination.
I trust you may use this short insight to realize you fears are no different, no matter how you attempt to justify it. Be the hero. Be your hero. You'll be surprised at how small fear really is, and how powerful you really are!