Ji Xianlin: The Year of the Tiger


I did not expect that in a twinkling, I had already arrived at the nine years of lookout.A few years ago, at the beginning of my old age, I felt a sense of “passing away like a husband” as time flies and time sequence is graceful.In the last couple of years, the nerve seems to have become numb to the passage of time, even when it comes to the New Year or the old year.On the last day of the old year and the first day of the New Year, there seemed to be a deep gap between them, as if the sky were not the same color or the earth was not the same state.Now I feel that although it is “the beginning of a New Year”, “everything” has not been “renewed”. Today is exactly the same as yesterday. I feel nothing has changed except that I am one year older.I could not write the words like “eighty stories” any more, because there was really no “stories”.However, today, the time sequence is changing from the ox to the tiger. Maybe it is because of the deep impression of the tiger that I have been indifferent to time in the past few years, but now I pay more attention to time. As the saying goes, “heaven increases time and people increase longevity”, I have gained another year of life.I suddenly felt that this year was really serious. It told me that I was definitely a year older.Li Baishi “High hall mirror sad white hair”, I rarely look in the mirror, the white on top of my head is I feel, rather than I see, white as if there is weight, heavy pressure on my head.As for the wrinkles on my face, I don’t even feel them, I don’t even think about them.No matter how I feel, there is no doubt that I am old.I’m older than I planned, older than I expected.My father and mother both lived to be in their forties, and my original first goal was to live to be fifty.It is said that human lifespan is inherited and I will never outlive my parents much.Fifty or sixty years, however, passed quickly.Sixty years, just out of the cowshed, no time to consider age.The seventy-three of Confucius and the eighty-four of Mencius passed away in a flash like lightning.I had forgotten my original plan, and there was only a budget, not a final account.But in a flash, I was what I am today, alone.According to the western method, mi’s birthday should be celebrated next year.Is the eighty-seven years I have lived short or long?Long enough in terms of life span.As the saying goes, “life is 70 years old,” I have already passed the 70 years old, can not be too long?From another point of view, it’s long enough.This idea has never occurred to me, and I have never met any Chinese or foreign scholar.It was my “spark of genius” that flashed out this “ordinary truth”.Now, the history of China, an ancient civilization of the world, has only reached 5,000 years at best, but I have lived for one fiftieth of that. Can you say it is not long enough?Think of five thousand years ago, human beings may have come down from the trees for some time, early invented fire, can use tools, play a lot of tricks, claiming to be “the spirit of the universe”.However, from today’s point of view, the possibilities are limited, and the so-called “palace in the sky” at that time probably meant the moon, which was beyond our reach.But today man has landed on the moon.The mystery of the moon palace has come to light today.The vicissitudes of life are not great, but in the long five thousand years, I have accounted for nearly one hundred years. Can it be said that it is not long enough?Human eyes are in the face, not in the back of the head, can only look forward, want to look back, must turn around.But WHEN I recall, I can look back.What I saw was an extremely long road hidden in clouds, starting in a remote village in Shandong Province.From there, I walked to Jinan, to Beijing, and to Germany and Switzerland.This path has always followed me, or rather been dragged behind me.After staying abroad for more than ten years, I dragged this road again, or this road dragged me back to my dear motherland.Then, within a few decades, my feet had traveled through many countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe, and my track had, of course, become the road again.This road has not broken an inch, it sometimes twists and turns, bumpy, sometimes smooth, happy, in the moment now, it ends at my feet.But I knew that as soon as I lifted my leg the road would begin to stretch until it came to a place where the wild lilies grew.When it gets there, I don’t know.But it doesn’t look like it’s going to arrive soon.In recent years, in my reading of Chinese and foreign academic and literary history, I have made it a habit that I have never heard of anyone else doing. I pay no attention to the academic attainments of these brilliant scholars and poets, whether they are popular or artistic, this or that. I look first at their dates of birth and death.And I made a surprising discovery: the vast majority of them were young, in their forties, fifties and sixties.The few famous poets who died in infancy, such as China’s Li Changji, Britain’s Shelley and Keats, are not many who lived beyond their seventies.When I was young, I was greatly impressed and envied when I learned that the great German poet Goethe lived to be eighty-two years old, the great Indian poet Tagore to be eighty years old, the British Bernard Shaw and the Russian Tolstoy to be over eighty years old.I had no idea of following them or following their footsteps, and almost considered it a certain “fantasy.”And yet, as I have said above, there comes a moment when I look round, and the very long path that my feet have made drags me close to my eyes.I was shocked: I was already older than them today.I felt a thrill in the depths of my soul.I am an ordinary person.If there is any advantage, it is that I am more diligent.I have never dared to be lazy in my life, and to this day I still have to work seven or eight hours a day.It happened that one day I was not reading or writing, and I often tossed and turned at night, blaming myself for a wasted day.Cao Cao has a famous poem: “Li-an old hero, costrum.Martyrs old age, ambition.”I appreciate the poem very much.My trouble is getting carried away and forgetting my age.What I do is “li-an old hero, costraint”.I’m like what the British call a teenager.I do not seem to know how many years I have to live, how many plans I have in mind for reading and writing.When an old man forgets his age, it is a good thing on one hand and a bad thing on the other.It is verging on madness, which dares to do anything.Two years ago, I jumped from the 1.8 meter high windowsill, is a good example, friends for me to pinch a “hind” sweat, I can not help after fear.In this way, I am in constant conflict. On the one hand, I feel that I have lived too long and am too tired. On the other hand, I forget my age.On the one hand, I often talk about death. On the other hand, I feel that I am not afraid of death. Death is far away from me.Paradoxically, the latter tends to prevail.Among the ancient Chinese poets, Su Dongpo is one of my favorites.I remember that when I was a teenager, I used the Complete Works of Su Dongpo to write poetry riddles.I didn’t understand everything, but I went over it in a confused way.In the last one or two years, I love Su Dongpo’s poems so much that I can recite many of them.One of my favorites is “Wash Stream Sands.”The title is “Swim in qingquan Temple, adjacent to Lanxi, and the stream flows west”.Mountain blue bud short dip stream.Songjian sand road clean mud.The rain cries at dusk.Who says there is nothing less?Water still flows west before the door.Do not sing white hair yellow chicken.Dongpo asked: “Who said life is no less?”I replied, “I believe that life is rare.”I’m feeling “less” right now.That’s my version of showing up.However, my “least” seems to be conditional in my heart: eat to live, but live not to eat, but to work.If you live only to eat, it is better not to live.On the occasion of the approaching of the New Year, I now sincerely wish our country stability, unity, peace and security.Bless yourself, the year of the Tiger.January 27th, 1998

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