This past week my core values felt waterboarded. I'm not in China as scheduled. Nor will I be going anytime soon.
Let me paint the moving picture. For about the last 5 months, I, along with my Hong Kong friend Houghton, have been making arrangements to interview key people and photograph 9 different Chinese wineries in Yunnan, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Hebei Provinces. If you look at a map, that covers all of China-about the same size as the USA. While making the arrangements, there were boulder-sized snags, hundreds of emails and the Silk Road.
I wanted to visit the Shangri-la winery vineyard sitting at more than 9000 feet in Yunnan Province near Tibet. But the road was under construction, making a 7 hour journey into a 3-4 day bone-jarring Genghis-Khan type expedition. I'm told that when the construction is finished, it will be a 3 hour trip. And winemaker Emma Gao in Ningxia Province invited me to stay with her family during my visit. And Loulan winery sits right on the Silk Road–I could have walked in the footsteps of Marco Polo. That area, way out in western China, is the second lowest dry spot on our planet . Talk about adventure city.
Plans were set. Seat assignments–window in front of the wing–confirmed. Airport pickups arranged. I spent 2 weeks fine tuning my packs, making sure that every sock and piece of photographic equipment was absolutely necessary. Heck, I didn't even pack my hair dryer.
Then Wednesday before I'm to leave, Erath Winery asked me to postpone for one week to complete some web and newsletter projects. With some teeth gnashing, I did that. I will leave one week later. This quick change of plans only took 5 or 6 hours to make all the contacts.
Then yesterday, "Microcalcifications," the doc called them. Oh yes, there was also another spot. A follow up mammogram for my wife Eddi showed these "abnormal" areas. "The soonest we could schedule a biopsy is next Tuesday," the white-coated doc says. "We went ahead and scheduled a consultation with the surgeon the following Monday."
"But my husband goes to China this Friday," Eddi interjects.
The cold water of reality splashed on us right there in the Mammogram waiting room. Mentally I canceled my China trip. Pain. I needed to be with Eddi through this. That's what family means. That's what the marriage vows mean "for better or worse." That night after she went to bed, I just looked at my meticulously packed suitcase and sobbed at the whole situation. How the big winds of chance can so easily change the course of our little ships. Who can say why?
Did I do the right thing?