Created on Mon Nov 07, 2011 8:55 am with 17 blog posts
Holy Shit Day Day
"Mr. Lin, intriguingly, every gentleman and lady listening to your speech look pretty cute according to my observation. I cannot help wondering whether good-looking persons tend to enjoy reading your books or they become prettier after reading your books."an audience asks me during my lecture. This question is thrown out so abruptly as to elicit a happy laughter from the crowd.
I reply him, "You take these people beautiful because you have a beautiful heart. Similarly, you are also beautiful in our eyes."
Aftern the lecture, strolling on my way home alongside the dim-lighted park, I suddenly find myself in a glinting garden under the silver moonlight. Trees and flowers bath in the peaceful moon light and are also reflected in the yellow ripples. Faint fragnance of flowers flows in the air. Yeah! Such a lovely world only opens it door for those who have a beautiful heart.
Yet regretfully, we are easy to discern the beauty of a garden, of trees and flowers, of moon and stars, but usually fail to appreciate the merits of others or those beautiful hearts on the street, in the restaurant and many other else places.
The reason of my writing is not only to remind you those beauties around you but also to wake up those dormant beautiful hearts.
I’ve been in Beijing altogether for over 40 years. So I can well call myself a long-timer of Beijing. Like all other long-timers of the city, I’m supposed to be very familiar with its scenic spots and historical sites, nay, its superb attractions. But I believe there is one thing lying unknown to most of the long-time residents –the predawn hours of Beijing.
For many years, I have been in the habit of getting up before daybreak to start work at four. Instead of going out for a jog or walk, I’ll set about my work as soon as I’m out of bed. As a result, it is from inside my study that I’ve got the feel of predawn Beijing. Years ago, I hit upon a newspaper article about street cleaner in Tian’anmen Square at daybreak. It must have been a very moving scene, but what a pity I haven’t seen it with my own eyes. I can only picture it in my mind longingly.
Forty years ago, I lived downtown in Dongchang, a compound which had housed the secret service of the Ming dynasty. There were inside it several deep spacious courtyard one leading into another. I was the sole dweller of the three innermost courtyards. My friends, calling this place too ghastly, seldom dared to come to see me in the evening whereas I myself found it quite agreeable. In summer, the moment I got out of bed before daybreak, I would smell the delicate fragrance of the giant silk trees coming from outside my window. Thereupon, I would feel refreshed and joyful, and the clumsy pen in my hand would seem to have become as agile as it could.
Several years later when I moved to the western suburbs, I kept my habit of rising at four to begin work at the window. The glittering spire atop the tower of the daytime through my window, would no longer be visible now in the early morning haze. Nevertheless I knew that, tough invisible, it remained there intact, towering to the skies to inspire people with hope and the urge for moving ahead. At this, I would be beside myself with joy and feel as if my heart were also flying high up into the skies.
Ten years after, I moved again. In the new home of mine, I had no silk trees, nor could I get sight of the glittering spire from afar. There was, however, a lotus pond of limpid blue in front of my door. In the first few years after I moved there, lotus flowers continued to blossom on the surface of the pond. In the summertime, when day broke early at four, a vast stretch of lotus leaves looking skywards outside my window came dimly into sight while the quiet fragrance of the lotus flowers assailed my nose. All that delighted me even more than the silk trees and the glittering spire.
Is it exclusively due to the above-mentioned that I’ve developed a liking for predawn Beijing? No. for 30 years, I’ve been bogged down in the mire of meetings. To tell you the truth, with the experience accumulated over the 30 years, I’m now scared of meetings. In the daytime, there is no telling when I may be served a notice for attending a meeting. To exaggerate it a bit, that keeps me in constant suspense and makes me fidgety. Even when no meeting is to take place, I feel restless all the same. However, my experience tells that it is only during the predawn hours that I can be truly havened from any involvement in meetings. As soon as I sit at my desk before dawn, something similar to the conditioned reflex will begin to function within me: Instantly I’ll pick up my pen to play my proper part with perfect peace of mind. Then inspiration comes gushing to my mind and my memory becomes as quick as a newly-sharpened knife. I’ll feel overjoyed, almost to the point of waving my arms and stamping my feet.
In short, I love Beijing, especially predawn Beijing.
The white poplar is no ordinary tree. Let me sing its praises.
When you travel by car through Northwest China’s boundless plateau, all you see before you is something like a huge yellow-and-green felt blanket. Yellow is the soil—the uncultivated virgin soil. It is the outer covering of the loess plateau accumulated by Mother Nature several hundred thousand years ago. Green are the wheat fields signifying man’s triumph over nature. They become a sea of rolling green waves whenever there is a soft breeze. One is here reminded of Chinese expression mai lang meaning “rippling wheat” and cannot help admiring our forefathers’ ingenuity in coining such a happy phrase. It must have been either the brainwave of a clever scholar, or a linguistic gem sanctioned by long usage. The boundless highland, with dominant yellow and green, is flat like a whetstone. Were it not for distant mountain peaks standing side by side (which, as your naked eyes tell you, are bellow where you stand), you would probably forget that you are on the highland. The sight of the scene will probably call up inside you a string of epithets like “spectacular” or “grand”. Meanwhile, however, your eyes may become weary of watching the same panorama, so much so that you are oblivious of its being spectacular or grand. And you may feel monotony coming on. Yes, it is somewhat monotonous, isn’t it?
Now what will become of your weariness if you suddenly raise your eyes only to catch sight of distant row of trees (or just a couple of them) standing there proudly like sentries. For my part, I cannot keep from uttering an exclamation of surprise!
They are white poplars. Though very common in Northwest China, they are no ordinary trees!
With straight trunks and branches, white poplars aim high. Their trunks are usually over ten feet tall and, as if wrought by human effort, utterly bare of branches below ten feet. Their twigs, also like things artificially shaped, all reach out towards the sky and grow close together in a cluster without any sideway growth. Their leaves are broad and point upwards with very few slanting sideways, much less upside down. Their glossy barks are a faint light green with hazy silver spots. They stand erect and unbending in face of North China’s violent wind and snow. Though they may be only as big as the mouth of bowl, they strive to grow upwards until they reach the towering height of some twenty feet and stand indomitable against the northwest wind.
They are white poplar. Though very common in Northwest China, they are no ordinary tree! You may call them unattractive because they have neither the graceful carriage of a dancer, nor such branches as can twine and climb. But nevertheless they are big and tall, honest and upright, simple and plain, earnest and unyielding—and not without gentleness and warmth though. They are giants among trees! When you trudge through the melting snow of the highland and see one or a row of white poplars standing proudly on the vast plains, how could you look upon them as nothing but mere trees? How could you forget that with all their simplicity, earnestness and unyieldingness, they are symbolic of our peasants in the North? How could you fail to associate them with our dauntless soldiers guarding our homeland all over the vast rear? How could you fail to see that these trees, ever striving to put out their closely knit branches and leaves in an upward direction, are symbolic of the spirit and will of our men who, fighting heroically all over the northern plains, are writing the history of New China with their own blood?
White poplars are no ordinary trees. But these common trees in Northwest China are as much ignored as our peasants in the North. However, like our peasants in the North, they are bursting with vitality and capable of surviving any hardship or oppression. I pay tribute to them because they symbolize our peasants in the North and, in particular, the spirit of honesty, tenacity and forging ahead—a spirit central to our struggle for national liberation.
The reactionary diehards, who despise and snub the common people, can do whatever they like to eulogize the elite nanmu (which is also tall, straight and good-looking) and look down upon the common, fast-growing white poplar. I, for my part, will be loud in my praise of the latter!
For ten years I never left my books.
I went up ... and won unmerited praise.
My high place I do not much prize.
The joy of my parents will first make me proud.
Fellow students, six or seven men,
See me off as I leave the City gate.
My covered couch is ready to drive away.
Flutes and strings blend their parting tune.
Hopes achieved dull the pains of parting.
Fumes of wine shorten the long road...
Shod with wings is the horse of him who rides.
On a Spring day the road that leads to home.
When will the moon be clear and bright?
With a cup of wine in my hand, I ask the blue sky.
I don't know what season it would be in the heavens on this night.
I'd like to ride the wind to fly home.
Yet I fear the crystal and jade mansions are much too high and cold for me.
Dancing with my moon-lit shadow
It does not seem like the human world
The moon rounds the red mansion Stoops to silk-pad doors
Shines upon the sleepless Bearing no grudge
Why does the moon tend to be full when people are apart?
People may have sorrow or joy, be near or far apart
The moon may be dim or bright, wax or wane
This has been going on since the beginning of time
May we all be blessed with longevity Though far apart, we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.
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