Thursday, January 8, 2009

Missed Opportunities

Imagine if this guy would have moved to the USA after his 1974 discovery. He would be famous I bet. He would have been on Oprah, had a Discovery special made about him, and be on the New York Times best seller list. He would be worth a grundle of money, and you might even know him by name. He would have been a hot commodity on the speaker's tour list.
But instead, he sits at a tiny table in Xian, China, shaking hands and signing books. He charges money for his signature that he does not get to keep. I doubt if he has a grundle of money, house, space, or anything. He remains a nameless face in most foreign tourist's photographs, unrecognized and shall probably die that way.
Who is he? He is one of the four men who discovered the TerraCotta Warriors. Simple farmers, who while digging irrigation ditches in their communist/government-owned fields, dug a hole, which revealed a face staring up at them.
I am presenting to Seth's sixth grade class next week about my visit to China, so I have it on my brain. I was thinking about those TerraCotta farmer men, who names are not even given official credit for making the discovery by the Chinese.
I met one of those men when I visited the TerraCotta Warrior musuem in 2001. It was not this man above, but an older gentleman. I shook his hand, was too cheap to buy an overpriced book or signed autograph. I had touched him and that was enough for me (like this summer when I shook the hand of a real life Sherpa who has summited Everest twice. I have always been weird that way...if I can touch some piece of the experience, it is enough for me).
There was something striking that I still can see in my mind's eye even as I write this. That old man, sitting at the tiny table, looked empty. And very sad. I cannot imagine being a part of one of the most amazing ancient discoveries of the world, and having that sad look on my face.