Finding the Center
Synopsis: Charlie Wu, an immigrant from China, has been fascinated by different religious beliefs and traditions. He grew up in Tibet and learned from the llamas. Becoming a wholistic doctor, he begins searching for 'truth', which he finds very subjective but one thread connects us—community. It transcends creeds, race, sex and even hurts of the past. There is also a romance involved between Charlie and a glistening yoga instructer, Hanna Lucinda Berry.
~*~ CAST ~*~
Dr. Charlie 'Chuck' Wu:
Linda Wu: (Charlie's mom)
Kevin Wu: (Charlie's dad)
Evan Foster: (customer)
Dr. Rotheford 'Ford' Long:
Xian Yi Long:
Ming Xia Long: (the baby)
Hanna Lucinda Berry:
Dahlia Berry: (Hanna's mom)
Joseph Berry: (Hanna's dad)
Caleb Berry: (Hanna's younger brother)
Ruth Berry: (Hanna's baby sister)
Anais 'Anna' Oleander: (Hanna's best friend)
Scene 1—Tibetian Existence
Chuck: Can you believe it, Ford ? We're graduating at the top of our class, headed for better prospects ! I've never been this euphoric in all my existence !
Rotheford: I can see your parents practically sparkling with pride, Charles.
Chuck: Yours are too, Ford. (laughs) What are you going to do with yourself ? I have loved Tibet since my youth. It's hard to leave the llamas behind, since they're the only life I've known.
(laughing lightly) Except University.
Rotheford: I thought I'd expand my reach here. Give back to the community. Maybe even lend my talents to missionary work.
Chuck: You mean 'doctors without borders' ? (Rotheford nods vigorously) That's very lofty work, but I know you'll be one of their best physicians.
Rotheford: What about you, old friend ?
Chuck: I want to stretch my roots, expand myself. That's why I want to find work in America, preferrably Oregon. I hear it's a positively stunning place. Gorgeous in fact.
Rotheford: Do keep in touch. It won't be the same without you here.
Chuck: You're starting to sound like my parents, Ford.
Rotheford: (slaps him on the back heftily) They believe in you and so do I. I've heard it's hard to gain employement there, but if anyone can reach their dreams, Chuck, it's you.
Chuck: (turning around and hugging him) Thank you, Ford.
Wherever I go, you're my brother. Maybe we'll meet again someday. For the time being, I promise to write and Skype as much as possible.
Rotheford: Good to know because if you don't I'll harass you until you go completely nuts.
Chuck: (shakes head left and right) I wouldn't want it any other way, though, Ford. (Grinning)
Llama #1: (narrating) He had branched out so far already from his existence with us that we could see him extending roots into foreign soul.
Llama #2: (narrating) He was moving far from us, but his soul would ever be with us.
Llama #3: (narrating) Yet, it seemed that he was searching for something that it seems we might have overlooked. Something the ancient religious texts left out.
Llamas: (narrating) Truth of his own perspective.
Llama #4: (narrating) Such truth can be difficult to find. Our brother, he knows the way, but the path will be arduous.
Llamas: (narrating) Somehow, we sense though, our brother will reach understanding and find the center he seeks.
(Scene fade into the sunset. Much later we see '1 Year Later' appear on the screen and a plane lands into Seattle, OR. Chuck is getting his bearings in his new home and begins to set up shop in his house. He puts the listing under 'Wholistic Healing' in hopes that he'll gain customers.)
Chuck: And that's, well, that ! (beams, satisfied with himself) Even with my second job I'll be able to make a comfortable living.
All Collins: Hello, neighbor !
Lily: We heard you were coming and knew you were a newcomer. I'm Lily Colins. This is Jayden, my husband.
Katie: I'm Katie, but you can call me Kate.
(grinning widely and generously)
Chuck: (Shaking all their hands) I wasn't expecting such a warm welcome so soon. Still getting used to this unusual culture and lifestyle.
Katie: Where are you from, Mister ?
Chuck: Oh, you can call me Chuck, sweetheart. I'm from Tibet.
Katie: (astonished) That's like, a zillion miles away.
Lily: That's our Kate. Loves to exaggerate.
Jayden: (giving Chuck a basket full of baked goods and provisions) We thought you could use some comfort food.
Make you feel at home.
Chuck: (amazed) This is all a bit too much really. I appreciate your generosity.
Lily: If you need anything at all, you can ask us. We can also show you around the neighborhood.
Jayden: All the hotspots, historical districts, et al.
Katie: (playfully) I'd like to hear Chuck's stories about Tibet.
It must be wonderful there.
Chuck: I'll tell you everything about my homeland, later, Kate.
I'd like to know more about Oregon and the States. I had no idea there were so many Asians here. It's like being back home, almost. There were many people I've met who could speak Tibetian, strangely. It was unusually comforting. But, (laughs a little) I'm still reeling from culture shock.
Lily: Oh, you'll get used to it. People here are friendly. If nothing else, we'll always be your friends.
Jayden: We could sense right away you had a magnificent aura about you.
Chuck: You'll forgive my bigotry, but I only felt monks and the enlightened could view such a phenomenon.
Katie: You'd be wrong then, Chuck. I don't tell many people about this but like mom and dad I can see the lights around people too. Lets me know if I can trust them or not. You're a good person. I can feel it.
Chuck: Incredible. (chuckle) I am sorry I was so quick to judge. My teachers told me never to do that. Yet, it is one of my faults. Been working hard to rid myself of that one and slowly, it's eroding.
Jayden: We're new every day, Chuck. We shed our old skin and in a year, we're refreshed. So you can say, every year truly is that, a renewal.
Chuck: You're as wise as my gurus.
Lily: (laughing) That's high praise. (takes his hand) Come on, we have a lot to show you. But we won't be doing it in a whole day's time. There'll be plenty of other times for a look around Oregon.
Jayden: We'll show you around the landmarks today.
Katie: (optimistically) You're going to love it here, Chuck !
Pretty soon I'm going to have a baby brother or sister to share all of Oregon with. Honestly, I'm a bit sad I won't be mom and dad's favorite any longer, but I am looking forward to being a big sister.
Chuck: For a girl your age, that's really impressive. (patting her head) I am looking forward to meeting your sister or brother.
Kate: Her name will be Marianne, but if the baby is a boy, he'll be Xaiver. I like either name and it won't really matter whether the baby's a girl or boy. Just so long as she's got 10 fingers n' toes.
Charlie: (musing to himself) I can only imagine the reaction I'd receive if my brothers and sisters could see this place. The world is so much bigger than I ever imagined, and like I thought, the enviroment is pleasant and welcoming. Hopefully I can bless this community in manifest ways as it has already blessed me...
(beaming an iridescent smile) We shall see.
(Scene fade as the newfound friends speed off into the light and 'Out Loud' from 1,000 Words plays in the background)
Scene 2—When Books Don't Contain the Answers
Charlie: (looking through all his spiritual texts, and every one of them he has read at least twice or more) Could there really be nothing new I haven't read ? Nothing inspiring and different ?
(signs, looking a bit defeated and turns on the TV)
Woman on TV: Come to the Center. Find yourself, find your passion, uncover the truth. Come and simply be.
Charlie: (chuckling a bit) If that's not a nudge from the Universe, I don't know what else could be.
(leaves, locking all the doors, exiting out the garage and heading to 'The Center', playing 'Follow You Down' on the radio)
(Entering, while a class of students is meditating, and he stands a bit awkwardly, feeling mortified.)
Hanna: Don't be shy, Sir. Come on in, we were only just beginning with class. I'm Hanna Berry. You are ?
Chuck: Doctor Wu. You can call me Chuck.
Hanna: Are you that wholistic doctor ? I read your ad in the newspaper. (surprised) Ha. It really is a small world. To think I'd meet someone like you here !
Chuck: What do you mean by that Hanna ?
Hanna: Wholistic doctors aren't too common in the States, but they're becoming more accepted. Personally, I think it is terrific that they are.
Chuck: I'm not practicing on anyone yet. (a bit chagrinned) I haven't had any customers.
Hanna: Don't worry, Chuck. You will. Do you have business cards ?
Chuck: (nodding) Certainly. I carry them with me wherever I go.
Hanna: Class, we have amongst us a wholistic healer. If any of you are interested, I'm sure Dr. Wu will give you a card after class.
Chuck: You're good PR, Hanna. (generous smile) Thank you !
Hanna: No problem, Chuck. Maybe I can get your business going. Sometimes these things require a little boost. Whatever happens, I'm supportive of it.
Chuck: (feeling a bit smitten) Reassuring to know.
(the class bends and stretches to some calming East Indian New Age music as Hanna teaches them. Chuck notices something very different about her classes at the end of his first session.)
Chuck: (a bit sore) I stretched muscles I didn't even know I had. Ow...(walking with a bit gingerly)
Hanna: First timers usually have those complaints. Once you get used to stretching and bending your muscles in different ways, your body will become more pliable.
Chuck: (looking up front) What's this box all about then ? Don't you charge your students for sessions ?
Hanna: You're really observant, Chuck. Actually this box is for donations. Technically the Center is non-profit, but many of my students give donations which keep the Center running.
Chuck: Ingenious. (looks at his watch) It's almost time for me to open up shop. Class was magnificent !
Hanna: I was curious...would you like to have a bite to eat tomorrow ? You could join me for lunch. I know of a quaint place not too far from the Center.
Chuck: (pauses) You're asking me out on a date ? (astonished) How times have changed.
Hanna: So, is it a yes ? (anticipatory)
Chuck: (Finding himself a bit tongue-tied at first) Yes, of course, why shouldn't it be ? I'd be delighted to.
Hanna: Then, my friend. (shaking his hand on it) It's a date.
Scene 3—Tea and Honey
(After class at the cafe with Hanna. Cool jazz is playing in the background, most likely something by Keiko Matsui or Chris Botti.)
Hanna: It's nothing really fancy, but I thought perhaps this could be our little meeting place.
Chuck: It's rustic. I like it. The options are plentiful, too.
We had nothing like this in Tibet.
Hanna: (becoming increasingly interested) Tibet ? I've longed to go there since I was little.
Chuck: (with confidence) I'm certain one day I can take you there. You'd love the monks I grew up with.
Hanna: (gasping lightly) You lived such a privilidged life. I have always wanted to do the same. I've been to an asharam once.
It wasn't easy, but I let go of the old me and it's what led me to open the Center.
Chuck: Wow ! That's powerful. Just think of how many people you help daily, even people that you bump into by happenstance.
Hanna: (patting his hands) It's uncanny just how similar we are. I never thought I would meet someone like you, or even to find friendship with a man of your caliber.
Chuck: (a bit subdued) I'm awfully flattered you feel that way.
Hey, do you want to walk back to my practice with me ? It's out of my home and not too far from here.
Hanna: Why not ? It's perfect outside, might as well enjoy it.
Chuck: (pleasantly) I like you more and more every second, Hanna Berry.
Hanna: (chuckles) As do I, Chuck. (She squeezes his hand as they walk)
("A Summer Place" plays in the background as they walk, chat and laugh.)
Chuck: We will have to do this again someday.
Hanna: (nudging him playfully) And you, doctor, will have to tell me more about Tibet as well.
Chuck: I have photos stashed away in myriads of albums.
Hanna: Sounds like a stellar idea for date #2. (leans forward to kiss him quite suddenly.)
Chuck: I'll be seeing you then, Hanna.
Hanna: That you will. (dazzling smile) Namaste !
Chuck: (almost beside himself as they depart) Namaste.
(walking inside his house, not believing his luck) I can't believe this. All my brothers and sisters back home would be in utmost awe, probably too stunned to speak. I have to get in touch with Ford, see what he's doing.
(Chuck, logs on to Skype and sees if Rotheford happens to be online)
(Skype call connects the two together)
Ford: Hey, Chuck ! It's been too long !
Chuck: Yeah, I'm sorry about that, Ford. It took me a few months to really settle here in Seattle but it is exceptional here.
Ford: Shanghai isn't bad either. I'm practically on my feet all the time, always on call.
Chuck: You must be a great doctor then, Ford. I knew you had it in you.
Ford: (flattered) Thanks, pal. So, have you met anyone interesting there yet ?
Chuck: Actually I wanted to talk to you about that very thing.
Ford: (knowingly) Your eyes have that smitten twinkle about them.
Chuck: Come on ! Ford, I can't possibly be that transparent.
Ford: Like water, Chuck. I know you, you're like a brother to me. Doesn't matter that we were raised in different places.
We're both Chinese citizens.
Chuck: If only the rest of the Chinese knew that like you do.
Ford: (getting him back onto a more positive topic) Enough of doom and gloom though. Who is she ? Come on, out with it.
You have to tell me (emphasis) everything.
Chuck: She's a yoga instructor and also teaches tai chi, deep breathing and meditation. Ford, she's unbelievable. I've never met a girl like her before. We have a lot in common.
Ford: I'm happy for you. Well, since you were busy getting cozy with the locals, I've gotten myself married. Xian Yi is out planting flowers in the garden and getting produce ready for us.
It seems fairly soon I'm going to be a daddy, too.
Chuck: Holy smokes, so soon ?
Ford: You aren't kidding. I wasn't expecting to become a father this quickly. But, I'm on cloud nine.
Chuck: I'm so happy for you both. When is Xian Yi due ?
Ford: Oh, November. Looks like I have to start thinking about names, clothing, getting a crib...Oh man. My head's hurting just keeping all the details in check.
Chuck: Don't stress out, man. You're gonna be fine. You'll be a super dad.
Ford: Thanks for the encouragement. I'm the one who is supposed to do that for you though.
Chuck: I'm your friend, that's what friends are for !
Ford: Too true. Hey, I'll keep you posted on the development with the garden and the baby. You can be his godfather.
Chuck: Woah, Ford ? Seriously ? I'm flattered.
When am I ever going to see your child though ?
Ford: Don't worry, there's always a way. Hey, you never know, if there's a wedding in your future I may just have a chance to swing on by and wish you well.
Chuck: I never said there would be a wedding. Hanna and I are friends. We're just dating. Yes, of course we like each other but love never factored into the equation.
Ford: I'm pretty perceptive about these things, Chuck. You're tea, she's honey. You compliment each other exquisitely.
You'll see, believe me. That's what Xian Yi says to me every day. She says I am the wind that keeps her aloft.
Chuck: That's absolutely beautiful. I don't know, though. I think it is too soon to jump to any foregone conclusions.
Ford: You've already learned quite a bit from your quest, Chuck, I can tell that. But you haven't exactly found what you're searching for, yet. You're close.
Chuck: I certainly feel that. (yawning) I'd better close for now though. It's getting late and I need to open early for work tomorrow.
Ford: May you welcome many customers, Chuck.
Chuck: Thanks again, Ford. I wish you and Xian Yi many more happy years together and a healthy baby.
Ford: Be seeing you, Chuck.
Chuck: You too, buddy. Goodnight.
(Chuck closes the chat, shuts down his computer and falls into a deep sleep. Scene fade.)
Scene 4—Making the Next Move
(Hanna is in the mall getting a mani-petti with her best friend Anais)
Anais: You've been acting a lot more peppy as of late. It's because of that Chuck fellow you've been telling me about, isn't it ?
Hanna: Anna, I don't know how you do it but you've nailed exactly whom I was thinking of.
Anais: Call it 'sympatico'. I feel like I'm your sister. We've known each other since kindergarten. And you still act surprised by my ability.
Hanna: I know, I know. I should be used to that by now.
Anais: It's been over a month, Hanna. You should be introducing him to your parents.
Hanna: Anna, it's not all that easy. They're a little (pained look and facial expression followed by a bit of a groan) biased when it comes to wholistic healing. Personally my folks think it's all a bunch of 'hocus pocus'.
Anais: Your mom and dad ? I thought they'd be a bit more open minded and supportive of you.
Hanna: (exhales sharply, a bit downtrodden) They told me from a young age not to date anyone who wasn't Jewish. I thought it was ridiculous, even a bit, dare I say, Aryian.
Anais: It's dated, if anything.
Hanna: They have asked about Chuck. I've told them about him, multiple times. I always left out the fact he was Asian.
Anais: Wouldn't they have inferred that due to his last name ?
Hanna: You'd think, with my parents being intellectuals. Luckily for me, I just leave the last name out of the equation.
Anais: (dubiously) I never thought you were so underhanded !
Hanna: (slightly offput) Anna, I had no real choice. Sooner or later, my parents are going to want to meet him and my mom is pushing me closer and closer to my breaking point.
Anais: So, give her a date then. Why put it off any longer ?
Hanna: (sighs again) I'm going to need a lot of time to reflect on this, Anna.
Anais: I'm here to support you no matter what happens. We're girlfriends, after all.
Hanna: That we are. The dynamic duo.
Anais: (holding her hand out to do a secret handshake, even though they're getting massages) Double trouble !
Hanna & Anna: Don't burst our bubble ! (laughing)
Anna: You still remember the motto. (nostalgic) Seems like only yesterday we had our tree fort and the Girls Only Club, or GOC active.
Hanna: You were the only girl who stuck with it.
Anna: Even though the GOC is dissolved, I'm not ever going to part from your side.
Hanna: (clutches her hand firmly but tenderly) That's why I love you so much !
Anna: Do whatever you need to then, Hanna. Go get 'em, girlfriend !
Hanna: (getting up from her table, mid massage) Whatever it takes, I'll convince them Chuck is the only guy for me. One way or the other, they'll come to love him the way I have over the years. But if it doesn't work. Meh, I tried, nu ?
Anna: (nodding understandingly)
Hanna: Thanks for everything, ladies. I'm off to make history.
(A militaristic piece plays in the background as she marches off with her towel wrapped around her in a cape, looking quite heroic and stalwart. Scene fade.)
Scene 5—Temporary Discomfort
Chuck: (helping his last customer for the day) No, thank you, Mr. Foster. I'm sure that you're going to feel years younger in a few days.
Evan: You're a miracle worker, Doc. I'll give you that.
Chuck: (laughs) You make me sound like I'm God almighty.
Evan: Sometimes I wonder !
(The two laugh and he exits, spry, spring in his step)
(Chuck's phone rings playing 'White Houses')
Chuck: Dr. Wu speaking.
Hanna: Chuck ! I've got a proposition.
Chuck: It sounds a bit dire. Is everything alright ?
Hanna: (a bit worried, uptight) I have been talking to mom and dad and they would like to meet you tomorrow at the cafe.
Chuck: Why do you sound so nervous though ? If your parents are anything like you, everything will be fine. Don't be so wound up.
Hanna: This is my dilemma. They don't know you're Asian.
My dad isn't very keen on non-Jews. I haven't told him your real last name, let alone your background.
Chuck: (winces and sucks teeth slightly) Now I see why you're so upset. Whatever happens, I'm by your side. I can take any racial tyrades. Maybe, who knows, I can get your parents, especially you dad, to like me.
Hanna: It'll take a lot of convincing. Dad is a hard sell, trust me.
He's a tremendous human being, but very close minded.
Chuck: Don't fret, Hanna. I'm by your side through whatever obstacles may come our way.
Hanna: (sigh of relief) That's comforting. I love you, Chuck.
Chuck: And I you, my free spirit.
(Quick transition to the cafe. Some smooth jazz, probably Kenny G is playing in the background.)
Dahlia: So, this is the man you have been telling me about ?
Joseph: He's Asian.
Caleb: So what, dad. Besides, you shouldn't be talking like that around Ruth.
Joseph: Ruth can handle it !
Dahlia: (pulling Joseph aside) Be civil, Joe. Chuck is our guest, we should treat him with respect and dignity like any other human being.
Chuck: If I may interject, I must say, I have been blessed to know your daughter all these years. I almost didn't want to do this, but I have been waiting long enough and now, you are all my witnesses.
Caleb: Go for it, dude ! (gives him a big thumbs up sign)
Chuck: (chuckling) I like this kid ! (pulls out a ring and sings 'I Love You Just the Way You Are')
Dahlia: That's by far the most romantic thing I have ever seen or heard.
Chuck: What's your answer, sweet spirit ?
Hanna: Yes, of course you know it is YES ! (wraps his arms around him and kisses him full on the lips, amorously)
Chuck: (holding her hand) Joseph, I know this probably eats at you inside and you could kill me right now.
Joseph: No. I admit I am a little upset with my daughter for lying to me about you. But (softens) I do think I can get used to you. You may not be Jewish, but now I see that race doesn't matter when it comes to love.
Caleb: So now I'm gonna have an Uncle ? SWEET !
Chuck: (chortling) Patience, Caleb. You and Ruth will have me as an Uncle soon enough, but it'll take time.
Caleb: (a bit sadly) Awwwww, no fair. (brightens) At least I can be the ring bearer, and Ruth'll be old enough to be the flower girl, won't you Ruth ?
Ruth: (curiously) Flower ?
Caleb: See, she's even volunteering for the job.
Hanna: One step at a time, Caleb. Don't rush it. We'll plan this together. Right now, I simply have to take all of this in and bask in the bliss I feel.
Dahlia: (hugging her from the side) Congratulations ! (nearly bouncing) I can't wait ! Finally my little girl's getting married !
Joseph: (a bit threateningly) You better take care of her.
(jokingly but sternly) Got me ?
Chuck: (nervous and stammering lightly) Oh, I got ya. Nothing misunderstood there. No, Sir.
(Scene fade after we see the family beginning to make their plans and Caleb's eagerness take on new heights.)
Scene 6—Simple Yet Beautiful
Ford: (standing by Chuck) I told you so. You wouldn't believe me !
Chuck: (rolling eyes) I know, I know. Now I have to eat my words ! (light hearted laugh)
Ford: I had to repay you for your gifts for little Ming.
Chuck: I see her with your gorgeous wife. She looks just like her mom. She's grown quite a bit since the last I saw the two of you on Skype.
Ford: I know. Ming is growing like kudsu. It's daffy how fast they grow. I've been taking 'far too many pictures' though, according to Xian.
Chuck: I can see why though. She's just too adorable. Must've gotten some of that charm from her dad.
Ford: Stop. Really. Did you notice your brothers and sisters came too ?
Chuck: (nodding) Yes. I wasn't expecting them. But they said that we had a bond and despite the cost they would come. It's humbling. I only pray I have given them honor.
Ford: More than that. You've discovered what it means to have peace and true happiness. For so many, this is elusive and like grasping at the wind.
Chuck: Great philosopher Ford. Ever the deep thinker.
(Mendelson's Wedding March plays. Hanna begins promenading down the aisle, radiant and glowing.)
Ford: Dear God, Chuck. You never told me your wife was such a hottie.
Chuck: (furrows brow a little but in jest) You're a married man, Ford.
(The two are brought together, say their vows and a slideshow of their reception is shown to an instrumental of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Quickly, they are shown in Tibet, interacting with the monks and learning deep truths from them.)
Hanna: You were right about taking me to Tibet one day. Who would've ever thought we'd be spending our honeymoon here !
(kisses him from the side, playfully bobbing up and down on the balls of her feet giddily)
Chuck: I always keep my word, don't I, dearest ?
Hanna: (squeals joyously and kisses him again) I will never forget this, not as long as I live. Nor will I forget your beautiful brothers and sisters. Such simplicity. I feel blessed to have partaken in all of it. I feel enriched.
Chuck: And I too, my heart.
Llama #1: (narrating) Sometimes it takes a journey and returning to the center of the origin to gain true perspective.
Our most beloved student has learned these truths well. May he ever keep them in his heart and mind and teach them to his children to come.
(Scene fade, returning back to Oregon...)
Jayden: Bus is here ! Lily, come on, wake up sleepy head !
('Count On Me' instrumental plays in the background as they head out the door, get their lunch and get a kiss from mom and dad.)
Lily: See you later, mom and dad !
Hanna: Lily, Jayden, don't forget ! We're going out for dinner tonight. Dad's treat.
Jayden: Awesome ! Will Uncle Caleb and Aunt Ruth be there ?
Hanna: Yes, in fact, grandma and grandpa'll be coming along.
Both: COOL !
Jayden: This is gonna rock so hard ! I've missed Caleb, he's the most wicked righteous Uncle in the UNIVERSE !
(Rushes out and pecks Hanna on the cheek before she leaves for work, and Lily too, and kisses Chuck goodbye.)
(POV from above the Wu residence and then into the clouds as 'The End' appears on the screen followed by an original song, 'Full Circle')
At first I was lost but then I found
Something of a common ground
Didn't need to search around
My origin was all I needed
I never thought love was the way
But that is all I need today
Its glow grows brighter day by day
And now I know
I've come full circle
Now I truly belong
This truth lodging within heart and mind
Righting every wrong
It was so long before I realized
What was right before my eyes
And all I ever wanted was never far behind