The Miracle of the “Long March Spirit”

My Chinese husband, wearing a "Red Army" hat
My Chinese husband, wearing my "Red Army" cap


I’m sure I heard that sound this past Friday, after a phone call closed one of the best options for my husband’s internship. The person in question echoed much of the same discrimination we’ve known from the past. It sent me reeling for much of the evening, and well into Saturday.

Maybe it hurt me harder because I considered this person’s very emergence a miracle. That kind of “hey, someone else actually believes in my husband too” sort of feeling. But the person turned out to be nothing more than a mirage, and so were the opportunities.

Still, even if they’re not real, mirages can sting. I should know, because I came this close to just giving in, just saying, “To hell with it, maybe they were right all along.”

But yesterday, I donned my Red Army cap, the very one I bought years ago on a trip to Chairman Mao’s hometown of Shaoshan, Hunan, and headed outside with my husband to kick around a soccer ball in an empty soccer field nearby. It’s something we do as a way to exercise as a couple and just let off a little steam. Yesterday, however, surprised me. When I first tried juggling soccer balls with my feet some four years before, I couldn’t even hit it twice. But yesterday, I hit it eight and nine times in a row, twirling around and lunging my leg to catch the ball with a grace I never knew before. Every kick and every jump thrilled me, because even months before I couldn’t imagine juggling a soccer ball with such ease.

Later, I wondered — if I could do the impossible with a soccer ball, then couldn’t my husband and I do the impossible with his future? We still want to finish his training in this country. Many people out there seem to collude against him, to suggest it will never happen, to imply his failure. But this is too important to stop. If it takes more time, so be it. If we must pound the pavement and keep calling on more people — even strangers — we’ll be out there. With time and effort, we’ll figure out how to juggle this and make it work too. My husband calls it the “Long March Spirit,” the same spirit behind that Long March taken by China’s Red Army in the 1930s.

More than a month ago, I wept before a friend of mine. “Where is our miracle?” I asked her, after months of losing support and watching doors get slammed over and over in front of my husband. But now I realize I was wrong. We had a miracle all along — that my husband and I love each other so much that we’ll march together, hand-in-hand, until we make it.

Now where are my boots and my Red Army cap? 😉

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16 Replies to “The Miracle of the “Long March Spirit””

  1. I’m sure your husband will make it in the end.. is there some reason why he can’t look for training opportunities from abroad? Good luck with you 2, don’t give up!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about this latest news. But it sounds like you’re both taking it very well and have the strength to endure. It’s not the successes in life that make a marriage but the ability to get through unexpected obstacles. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if people were sincere when they made promises?

  3. That’s the spirit, Jocelyn! Don’t give up. One of the doors may just open. And if not, move on. In the long march together at least both of you get closer to each other and grow in strength as a couple. But of course in the end, there is gonna be a solution and you and John will know better than us as to how to proceed. You and John will get there eventually. Cheerio!

  4. There’s an old saying that “when one door closes, God will open up another one.” Sorry to hear that you are both still having to contend with this issue.

  5. That is the spirit !!! The story of “Long March” was about narrowly escaping the inevitable doom, barely surviving the harsh condition of constant running through wilderness, but eventually prevailing despite of all odds against.

    My personal journey is a long march, from where I was, to where I want to be. The worst time was in the past, when survival was the highest priority, but battle will not end, where subtle politics is the battle field. Looking back at those days when tears welled up at lonely nights, lying on “my only sleeping place” the couch, no friends, no relatives, no money and hungry, worrying about up coming tests and examines, I actually smile. When you are at rock bottom, the only thing that is going to happen is the CLIMB. One door slams shut, the other will open. Opportunities come and go, those who are well prepared will grab one someday, hopefully soon.

    Side note about the soccer playing. I used to play defense since I was afraid of losing ball, the type of attitude a shy boy had. Years later, I finally decided that it was more fun to score than clear the ball, and I found myself could dribble, hold and shoot the ball very well (with fair amount of practice though). Just as you have discovered: Try some new skills, you will surprise yourself 🙂

    1. Thanks to all of your comments, I wish I could give all of you a huge hug! Hope you can live with a virtual one.

      I feel like your support has really helped me manage so many of these difficulties this year. Just knowing that I’m not alone, that there are people out there who really understand has been so therapeutic. Thank you doesn’t even begin to encompass the gratitude I feel for your words.

  6. You know,

    I have a funny feeling that things are going to turn out really really well for you two. It’s because anything that’s worthwhile to pursue, any prize that’s worth attaining, in order to get it, you have to pay a price. A very dear price. That’s called paying your dues. And right now, you both are paying dues.

    I’ve been through projects that took me over a decade, cost me a few relationships along the way, not to mention my past career (which I didn’t like anyway), and just now, things are starting to build momentum.

    I’ve never worked on anything that was less than 3-4 years before it started building up into something major, and that didn’t involve a heavy price in terms of emotions, relationships, spirit, sweat, blood, and tears. Was it worth it in the end? It was damn well worth it. You both have each other, and even more important, you both support each other. In that aspect, you’re both very very blessed. For some of us, it’s me, myself, and I, and a very lonely path. But, we endure. You both have company. 🙂

    I think in 3-4 years, I’ll be looking forward to reading your best selling book about this. 😀

  7. People might not know know how to talk about race other than in the discrimination context. You do not want to fall into the trap of calling someone racist too soon. What happens to your husband is likely to be a combination of factors — cultural differences, personality conflicts among others. I am not saying discrimination is right. But you want to protect yourself not by taking up a fight, unless this is the last resort. Pick a fight when you have allies. Be smarter at building relationships.

    I will be really careful about what to do next. Hopefully your husband will get better of dealing with these type of issues because they will likely occur again in the future. Sometimes leaving is the best option. Many people will do just that.

  8. Discrimination is always hard to counter, and in my experience it seems to come from where you least expect it. There also seems to be no end to it… and it doesn’t matter where you live or what you do I don’t think.

    Don’t keep waiting for a ‘Miracle’, Jocelyn, as there is no such thing. Just like people are not ‘born lucky’ – the select few given this title have actually gone out there and made their own luck.

    I’ll bet that when Mao instigated the Long March he didn’t expect it to be a Miracle, it was just something that he needed to do at the time. There was a problem, he overcame it. Just like you and your husband will do (or may have already overcome by now… I hope so!)

    Unfortunately you will experience this type of reaction from people now and again. To be blunt, you just have to get used to it. Get a thicker skin and be prepared to lose friends, work colleagues and even jobs too. Moving is generally only a short term answer, as no doubt this situation will rear its ugly head again wherever you are.

    The way my Chinese wife and I get through times like this is to sit down at home and get drunk together. We then hurl abuse at the perpetrators, come up with some imaginative ways to get even, and then generally end up laughing about it. We’ll often round that off by watching our wedding video… helps to remind us of better days 🙂

    Keep your ‘Miracle’ spirit up Jocelyn, don’t give up, jiayo!

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