When we were born we had this dream of a magnificent life: live on this beautiful planet, travel long and far, meet beautiful noble people, have deep love and friendship with them, play the hero and heroine in epic stories, create legends, fight worthy enemies, perform remarkable feats, always stand in the forefront making history, survive great danger and adversity, climb the highest mountain, swim the seven seas, touch the farthest star, command a brave, devoted army, prevent catastrophes, lead human race to a new dawn, die gloriously for a high cause and with no regrets.
We were not prepared for a life so obscure and pathetic. We were not prepared for infestations, diseases, and garbage. We were not prepared for all the grey details. We were not prepared to live with indifferent and superficial contemporaries. We were not prepared to fight disgusting enemies. We were born for a mission, but nobody mentions it. Instead, we are asked to find jobs. Why should we be different? Don’t we just look like everybody else?
But we coped. We managed. We struggled in our personal history, suffered from our own mistakes and other people’s cruelties, swallowed all the bad things thrown at us, compromised in all lesser aspects. We only hold onto one thing, one thing we would not give up: What we should be doing. We did not get the glamorous stage to perform, did not even get the costume, but whenever possible, at any dirty, slimy, nasty place, we perform: we dance a divine dance, we sing a noble song, we create beauty, we fight for truth and justice. Instead of applause, we get scoffs, confusion, condemnation, rotten eggs and orange peels, or no attention at all.
How long does it take the pure hearts to get used to this world? Forever. We are always so out of place, even those of us who have coped the best. No matter how hard we try to mingle, to blend in, we stand out as different. No matter how much we have grown to love this world, we are never at home.
Home. When people sing the home-going songs we feel so lost. Where is home? We do not miss the place we were born into. We are happy that we left it. Every step we took, there was no reason to look back. We are forever in escape, hopefully into a better state. We have traveled this far, yet found no paradise. Home. It is a heartbreaking word. We have no home. If it exists, it is in the future, not in the past.
What I live to see is the beauty of my species, in their body, mind, heart, motion, creation, and choice. The tides of my life rise and fall around the magnitude of this beauty I find in life, as the tides of the ocean rise and fall to the changing gravity of the moon. What I live for, what I pursue, what I cannot have enough of, is this beauty.
Among all beauties, although they are all admirable, I keep being attracted to those that are natural, honest, and kind. Naturalness, honesty, and kindness, I have concluded, are the highest form of all beauties. A face showing such qualities is worth more than the magnificence of a palace.
It is the hardest lesson of life for people like us, to acknowledge that our conscious mind is very limited, and very flawed. Sometimes it is this mind that created all the problems for us; therefore we can not use the same mind to solve them. When you look at life, completely rational thinking (or straight thinking, as Dr. Andrew Weil calls it) inevitably leads to despair.
In your world, I sit in the corner.
Whenever a wind blows, my candles are put out.
Busy lighting them up again, I forget everything else.
This time, I’ll learn to be smarter. I’ll unfold my blanket and wait in darkness.
Whenever you please, my lord, come sit down with me.
I guess this is the ultimate wisdom we gain only through ultimate despair, when you have to trust the force that may save you or kill you. Be carried away. You may land safely, or you may disperse in the vast space and never exist as “you” again.
This is harder: to replace the pride and conceit of the human mind and will with respect and acknowledgement for complexity, limitation, uncertainty, and irreconcibility.
There is no safe haven. If you do not fight against absurdity and evil, then you live with it. Bite your tongue and suffer.
We are really not a smart species. Look at the wars, how we love to slaughter each other. Look at those smokers on street, how we love to destroy our health and other people’s. We are getting rid of ourselves before Nature does. We produce a few demons and some saints, the rest is the mass: shrewd, decent, ignorant, can follow either demon or saint, depending on who is louder or looking more assertive or arousing more emotions in “the people”. I guess usually demons win. Who is elected President? Who is crucified? How many times have we beheaded the best scholar and poet and artist of an era (Ji Kang), chopped a great literary critic in half (Jin Sheng Tan), burnt Giordano Bruno and Michael Servetus, cut into a thousand pieces alive the brave selfless general who saved the nation and the emperor (Yuan Chong Huan), shot Yu Luo Ke in public for his truth-telling essay, stripped and hanged Dietrich Bonhoeffer? My friends, don’t think these are only in the past tense. These are still happening and will happen again. I was only citing historical facts, to disclose to you our track record. Yes, this is the species to which we belong. We are doomed if we do not redeem ourselves and our children.