After publishing my latest text in mid-October, Youtube introduced to me the latest embroidery machines, which with their versatile software, are like computers. The machine does the work and the seamstress only needs to change the threads when necessary, set the fabric in a hoop and design the embroidery patterns. Machines don’t seem to set any limits on creativity.
When I thought about how the machines could be further improved, I thought about a Chinese double-sided embroidery, the kind I have at home. While searching for videos that introduced Chinese embroidery, I happened to open a video that introduces Shu embroidery from Sichuan.
In the video, a young woman sits a stretched embroidery pattern in front of her. Her needlework itself is like meditation. When I watched other videos of this person (Li Ziqi), I was astonished: How can a person accomplish so much and know so many things that we are used to considering as special skills?
She shows how raw materials change form and how easy it is to turn them into consumer goods: In one video, she sows cotton crops in her field, collects cotton, and makes raw cotton into a bed mattress. In another video, she grows silkworms to make raw silk from their cocoons. She shears the sheep, washes the wool, spins them into yarns, and dyes the skeins of yarn to weave warm clothes for the winter. In her hands, the bark of hemp and wood turns into paper, ashes into ink, a splash of colour to painting, wood and bamboo into furniture, garden and forest harvest into meals or flowers and plants into makeup.
She sows rice and corn, reaps the harvest, dries the grains, and grinds them to make flour and to bake bread. As a guarantee of everything, she makes the bread kiln herself. Her motto seems to be: what I don’t know is learned. Why do things half-heartedly when with greater devotion and dedication you can achieve a feeling of 100% and even stronger satisfaction!
Detachment From Everyday Life
Watching Ziqi’s videos is so fascinating that two to three hours fly by unnoticed. I immerse myself in watching them with a similar devotion as Ziqi immerses herself in her work. Her attention seems to be completely focused on what she is doing. She makes an ordinary farmhouse with its everyday chores look like a fabulous villa. Heavy farm work looks light and meaningful that bring joy and pleasure.
When watching videos, the soul rests, it is a reset to the mind. Life in the heart of nature, where doing is guided by our own character, freedom from the conditions of urban life and money gives us an idea of our own possibilities. Ziqi is a costume designer, painter, chef, carpenter, farmer, model, artist, shepherd, videographer and editor, etc. in the same person.
Videos that focus on the basics of life are very fascinating from a town resident’s perspective. The four seasons, the spring sowing and the autumn harvest, are the laws of nature that clearly embody the cause-and-effect relationship of nature: we get what we sow. It is not so much about the material world, because the crop may be destroyed, no matter what kind of seeds we sow in the ground. We get the kind of energy we sow (spread) to the environment. The frequency of our own energy attracts similar energy from the environment. We feel it when we watch the video: the soul rests, the mind returns to its original state, and our uppermost feeling is gratitude and peace. Ziqi’s work produces this kind of energy.
From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Li Ziqi has created a lifestyle that many dreams of. However, her life has not always been as fabulous. Rather, her life is a kind of Cinderella story that began with the divorce of her parents. In early childhood, she was mistreated by her stepmother. From the age of six onwards, her grandparents brought her up. In her early teens, her grandfather died and her grandmother was unable to support her. She had to finish school and went to town to look for work.
Life in the city was tough at first. She slept nights on a park bench with only bread as her food and sometimes lived under a bridge. However, she quickly adapted and learned new things, which enabled her to soon support herself and her grandmother financially. After eight years of city life, her grandmother fell ill.
She decided to move back to her home village to spend quality time with her grandmother while she was still alive. She did not hesitate for a moment, for she herself was also longing for a simple life in the mountains in her home village. Ziqi thinks that the biggest gift of city life was that she found out what she wanted from life.
Hard experiences as a child forced Li Ziqi to listen to her heart, her intuition, and to trust herself, that is, her inner guidance. Ziqi is a perfect example of a person guided from within who has the ability to use the resources at hand and seize opportunities. Her talent and abilities embody her survival instinct. Externally, she is thin and fragile, but internally she is strong, resilient, determined, and independent. Ziqi herself says that she has two sides: one is very sensitive and emotional, the other is down to cruelty practical.
Living on the Terms of Nature
Ziqi was 22 when she returned to the countryside, meaning she had a lifetime ahead of her. First, she opened an online store to sell homemade products. To promote the sale of her online store, she made videos about the creation and use of the products. The videos are short silent, captivating films with little talking.
Soon the videos became a trademark of Ziqi and she had to close her webshop due to lack of time. One of the themes of the videos is to show city dwellers alienated from nature where their food comes from (rice does not grow in the tree) and how raw materials are made into products, etc. The main theme of the videos is the symbiosis of nature, ie people, animal and plant life. They make Chinese culture and mental landscape known worldwide.
Ziqi doesn’t plan her videos in advance but does everything spontaneously. This is one reason why she has (so far) refused commercial cooperation. She does not want sponsors to make their own demands on video content. The content of the videos is created under the conditions of nature. Ziqi observes her surroundings: which flowers have opened or which fruits and vegetables have ripened to be eaten or preserved. Only by listening to her inner voice can she live on the terms of nature and realize her true self.
Living Under the Guidance of Inner Being
Discussions of Li Ziqi’s videos on Youtube show that people are as amazed about the content of her videos as I am. Someone asks what planet does this woman come from. Is there anything she can’t do? Someone says that after watching her videos, it feels really banal to order a pizza.
In general, people consider Ziqi’s omnipotence to be a special capacity. If one wants to look for something special in her abilities, I think her greatest talent is that she sees the resources at her disposal and knows to appreciate them. The fact is, some people have even better resources than Ziqi, but who don’t see their opportunities and can’t appreciate their resources. Also in Ziqi’s video chats, someone says that Ziqi is low-standard. An uncivilized peasant. As if civilization would grow in cities and require education.
In my childhood in the 1960s, there was still an attitude that only poor people pick berries and mushrooms from the forest for a living. With urbanization, everyone wanted a “clean job inside a house”. This alienation from nature was seen as access to civilized people. Today, a large proportion of people living in cities on the terms of money mourn their deprivation and look for opportunities to demonstrate.
In some places, the justice system distributes mitigated penalties for crimes committed by the “disadvantaged”. However, the disadvantage is, to the greatest extent possible, an illusion produced by our minds. Our Inner being has never abandoned us. Many do not believe, and most do not know, that they have Inner Being. However, our beliefs and expectations all affect the reality we create for ourselves. In both good and evil. Ziqi’s life under the guidance of Inner Being is an indication to me that humanity has a thriving future ahead. Our Inner Being is our connection to nature, the infinite intelligence that is the source of life.
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