A Fond Dream

Sometimes I wonder – to learn about life, how much would I have to actually live it?  I mean, could I get the gist of it by just reading other people’s stories?  A Chinese phrase, 一葉知秋 (“you learn about autumn by watching a leaf fall“), seems to intimate certain legitimacy of my way with life.

I am not the adventurous type. By adventure, I mean ordinary things people do all the time. For instance, I never tried tattoo. Nor did I have my earlobes pierced. If one day I got it done, it would be an adventure for me.

I never made a spread-wing pose on a higher stand either, like the one we see in Titanic, where you balance on the front deck of a ship, with arms outstretched and eyes half closed, letting the wind mess up your hair and lift up the clothing, while calling out something like “I’m flying” … I never did that. If one day I partake in something similar to it, it would be an adventure for me.

Not that I don’t like romantic plot. I am just not the dramatic type. Even if in love, I would mostly remain as still as usual, pursing my heart petals into an inner smile, as if watching a bloom of orchid cactus in secret, feeling as wistful as an abalone in deep sea.

I can only be me, born with a birth bundle, destined to be a particular kind. Among the 10,000 things allegedly one should do in life, I probably would end up having very few done. There is Mt. Everest I never climb, or Death Valley I never camp in to stargaze, and there is Amazon Rainforest I never trek or hike. Not even have I ever climbed up to a treehouse, or learned how to ride a scooter in the back alley.

One thing strenuous I ever tried is a marathon I ran. During the six month of training, it felt as if I got a purpose in life, making progress toward a goal. The feeling was so compelling that I planned to run a marathon every year from then on, until I die of natural causes at age 123.

Then the race day came. It was such an uneventful day – I ran the marathon, finished it at a pace, received a ‘medal’ so embarrassingly bulky, and had sores and aches all over for the next two or three days. I didn’t experience any ‘runners high’, the sense of bliss you’re supposed to feel after a long run. All I got is a thought stuck in the mind – now what? What’s the point of all this?

Always there is a gap between the imagination beforehand and the experience afterward. The tourist attractions you visited turned out to be less scenic than expected. The writer we find admirable in their writing most likely will be less inspiring in person. The adventure I never took remains fascinating as long as I don’t take it.

Sometimes I feel there’s so much to do in life, that I would barely have enough time to do it. Other times I suspect there isn’t much I would miss out, even if I don’t do anything at all. At all times, being an adventurer in my mind is basically all I ever do.

But people strive to ‘have it all’; we have been this way throughout the long history of mankind. Now with coronavirus lurking in plain sight, people are getting even more unsettled and scratchy, generating an energy field ever so antsy, suggesting you better have it all fast, otherwise you might die a death worthless and futile.

Still I can’t take it too seriously. The innate tendency to be an observer rather than a partaker is a dominant force. I will learn about autumn by watching the leaf swirl. And the interesting story behind this idiom 南柯一夢 (“a fond dream on the south branch”), only propels the twirl –

Long ago a man named Fen was a drinker. One day he got drunk under an old pagoda tree. In the haze, he saw someone invite him into a carriage, taking him to the great Kingdom of Pagoda, a land of luxury and splendor.

In the Kingdom, the king appointed him as the governor of “South Branch State”, and let him marry his daughter, Princess of Golden Branch. Everything in Fen’s life went well, he had successful career, nice family and good reputation. In a blink years had passed.

One day, a neighboring country invaded the Kingdom of Pagoda. As a commander appointed by the king to fight the war, Fen met his waterloo. And his wife, the Princess of Golden Branch, got sick and died. Then his rivals defamed him in front of the king, so he was exiled from the country.

As soon as his carriage left the Kingdom, Fen found himself lying under a pagoda tree, awaking from a nap. Around the tree roots was a large ant hole, tunneling into a branch facing south, where the sun turned its color into golden.

So the whole thing was a hangover dream by an ant hole. All the purpose and meaning in life disappear as you wake up. Fen wrote a verse to sum it up  –

“Take a nap in the breeze and dream a fond dream, you may call it the art of doing without doing.”

chick8(6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43 Comments

  1. Love your doodles, they’re cute! Oh, and this is such a fantastic article! P.S: are you a cat lover or not?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy to hear that🐞 Of course I AM CAT LOVER. I thought it’s pretty obvious?!! 😽 Thanks for being so nice, Silver 🐾

      Like

      1. Anytime buddy😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a drawing 😍

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    1. Happy you like it zara 😽

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🤩🥰

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, thank you for these kind words, but I would also depict myself as an eternal amateur, only “mimicking others” and using inspiration in others. I love these sketches of yours as well as your writing. The drawings are sweet and intimate. Thank you and stay safe

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being so nice to me, Olga. I just wish I could one day become an amateur as eternal and ethereal as you are 🦋 You take care and stay safe too 🐞

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I meant “you can’t know how much”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all hate it that WordPress doesn’t let us edit our comments 🦔

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoy your writing you can’t know much. There’s something in it I relate to. But whether it is about some sort of connection or not, I still enjoy as any other book of essays I would get deeply involved in its reading. Only one question, are those images drawings made by you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I appreciate you reading it, Olga, you can’t know how much 🍑 The drawings are drawn by me, but I’m an entry-level amateur, only mimicking others and entertaining myself, not a true artist like you. Your art works are really exquisite and ethereal 🌷

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dot
    Maybe happiness is a dream, not a destination… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love you quirk🦔 Maybe happiness is a method – you make yourself happy, you make others happy … Happy to see you Leo 🍑

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Timothy Price

    You can know whole worlds and large aspects of culture from reading a lot and observing only the little bits of the world that you are able too. There are those people known as armchair academics who form complete theories about subjects without going out into the field to test their theories. Norm Chomsky is one of the most famous armchair academics who’s had a tremendous influence on the field of Linguistics without testing his theories, especially field testing them. But that’s beside the point. It’s nice to experience as much as life as you can; however, personality, health, money, politics and pandemics can get in the way of getting out and about to study, observe and experience what life has to offer. Fortunately, there are books, blogs, photographs, films, and a wealth of media at our disposal to delve into and experience other lives, other cultures, many forms of art and alternate realities without facing the risks that abound in the world outside our doors.

    You have a wonderful imagination, Dot, with an interest in life and a cultural sensibility that allows you to fully experience life by reading, studying and delving into virtual worlds via the Internet. You have the makings of an exemplary armchair academic — I say that with the highest of compliments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy Price

      BTW Beautiful drawing. Have you thought about putting a series of your drawings together with short verses or short philosophical stories accompanying each drawing? I think you could make a delightful book. Maybe with the writing in both English and Chinese. I miss Blue Kitten.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would love to become an ‘armchair academic’ if only I could make it. That sounds exactly like a hopeful prospect for deeply introverted beings like me. Thanks for the reassurance and confidence you so generously bestowed, Tim. I feel much more settled into my virtual lifestyle now living with mostly second-hand life experiences. Unapologetically I will continue to feed on other people’s stories. And the most inspiring and enlightening source I stumbled on blogosphere is your blog. That wonderful website of yours is a gold-mine for me. Please keep up the good work🦉 I never thought about putting my drawings together, since I always feel kind of sheepish sharing my childish drawings, to be honest. Drawing them really makes me happy though, so I figure I’ve reaped the reward … It’s very kind and nice of you to think they are good enough for a book🍑 Blue Kitten will definitely come back, I miss him too🐱

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Timothy Price

          Your drawings are not childish in the least. They are really wonderful, well-drawn with a lot of feeling and emotion expressed by Blue Kitten and his pals who join him from time to time. They are great material for a book of short prose, sayings, stories or poetry. Or a storybook of the thoughts and adventures of Blue Kitten. Look at “Where the Wild Things Are” for a sample of a really good illustrated storybook: https://www.slideshare.net/samsmith_12345/maurice-sendakwherethewildthingsare. Simple thoughts by Blue Kitten would work so well in a form like “Where the Wild Things Are”.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I never came across the “Wild Things” before, thanks for the link. The book really is inspiring, I will give it a good study. Thanks for pointing out a clear direction for me to strive for, I’ll do my best … And I know Blue Kitten and his pals must feel really proud and special, since for the very first time their feeling and emotion are taken into account by someone🍄 I really appreciate it Tim!

            Liked by 1 person

  8. .

    Wonderfully written. Thank you dear !

    This is a wonderful question. also : “Could I get the gist of it (life) by just reading other people’s stories ?”

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ask the question because I’ve been learning a lot reading those wonderful stories of yours – thank you so much, dear Outosego 🍅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much, dear, for the appreciation. My answer, though, to this question of yours is “No”. You’re wise enough to know it, and to know the reason ! Take care !

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        1. I love your style, Outosego🐸 I read somewhere that the best writing is like dropping a stone to the ground, simple and direct. Don’t remember the exact wording, but I think that’s the gist of it.

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  9. The one who is usually the deepest ocean of thought and deed is also the most humble. When I read your post, I hear your voice not those of my Head Elves reading along. You compel me to look inside and find my inner Fen. I too have dreams more exciting than life. In my dreams, there is a mansion on a mountainside above the ocean. It requires no maintenance. Food and drink is plentiful and there are endless rooms to visit and contemplate. There is always a beautiful and kind lady who visits and offers wisdom, consolation, and love without guilt. It’s only a dream and I look forward to it. When I wake up it is to the sound of seagulls riding the air currents and squawking their discovery of some meal down below. The gulls turn into my alarm clock and I realize, I’m back and it’s time to go to work. Ah, Fen, you rascal. What can I say? I enjoy The city of Pagoda as well as the Pagoda tree. A lovely post and artwork, Dot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Before this I had difficulties imagining what your Head Elves look like – they seem to be playing such a center role in your play so I am curious, now I know by Head Elves you meant Seagulls. Seagulls riding air currents and capturing food and drink plenty. Such a vivid and lively picture for those Head Elves of yours, matching my inklings about them to every bit🐝 But once the gigantic mansion on that imposing mountain above an all-encompassing ocean come into the picture, the room for contemplating becomes just overwhelming for my humble deep to accommodate🐞 Although it requires no maintenance at all for a proficient practitioner like you. In your presence, naturally Fen is a good-for-nothing, even your alarming work life sounds much more exciting than his ant hole dream … You have such magnificent power to make everything else appear pale and pitiful in comparison with you, Hype 🍄🥑

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so kind in your assessments of Hyperion, my alter ego. In real life, I am a wood sprite only a half meter tall and round like a basketball. Being round makes it easier to get away from squirrels who think I’m a big nut that needs squirreling away for a later meal. I do get caught and buried a lot. It’s tough digging my way out and disappointing for the squirrel who returns to an empty cache. I do wonder at times if I stayed buried would I sprout and grow into something tall but not wide like Hyperion. I admire your humble deep and that you can find your zen in a smaller temple than many a practitioner. I find it fascinating that this grand mansion of uncountable rooms fits inside my head. Just how large is it inside there? There does always seem to be enough room in there for every dream.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Usually I find squirrels cute and lovely, but once you introduced the image of half-meter tall and basketball wide a wood sprite, squirrels become not even half as cute as wood sprite. You did it again – every route you choose to roll by, you outshine all other egos big or small standing by. The wood sprite may be not tall and sprouty, but his nutty core is big and intriguing, exactly the way I like it … So the essence of wood sprite has nothing contradictory to the hero of my small temple, the tall and not wide Hyperion🌵

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I am smiling so big now Dot, I am only a bunch of teeth with a nose peeking over the top. I enjoy all of the creatures of my imaginary self. I also have wee dragons that are a lot like cats except scaly. The like to lounge around in the sun and count clouds or chase butterflys. Sometimes those rascals chase the neighbors cat but it’s okay. They are good buddies. Well, except when the wee dragons eat the cat’s food then there can be a little squabble. So, When Hyperion goes out to work in the yard there is a round wood sprite rolling by with a happy squirrel close behind and wee dragons underfoot all times except when the neighbors cat comes out to play. It’s never possible to be alone or lonely.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. And who’s to say the dream is not as real. Or that “reality” is but a dream 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You seem have been in the zone, very prolific with profound writings … I’ve read them all, but I feel it would take plenty re-reading for me to just assimilate a little bit 🐝

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks ! As have you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. “Life is to be enjoyed, not endured” ― Gordon B. Hinckley

    “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
    Love like you’ll never be hurt,
    Sing like there’s nobody listening,
    And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
    ― William W. Purkey

    And for you Dot —“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” ― Walt Disney Company

    So Keep Blooming Dot, even if its only a little bit at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love all these quotes 🍏 Naturally I am smiling just a little bit now, but I want you to know I appreciate it a lot 🍑

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You are such a deep thinker. It seems the journey is the reward, and there is no finish line. It’s the striving, not the achieving, that makes life worthwhile. “The writer we find admirable in their writing most likely will be less inspiring in person. ” This is true..because the conversation would fall into the mundane very quickly…the weather, thoughts on politics and the latest movies…then what?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s because my drawings are too childish, so I have to try my best to sound deep🐧 Sort of a survival instinct I guess. But no matter how hard I’ve tried, all my attempts-to-sound-deep were instantly in vain once you commented the way you just did. I guess that’s what happens when an aspiring Zen master meets a realized Zen master🦔 I bet you would be just as inspiring in person as in writing 🐸

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! OMG! I like the think I’m an ascended soul…and I’m trying to bring that to my character…but I also admit I live deep within my own delusions. LOL!

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        1. You are an ascended soul to me, although you may be only a delusion to yourself – that’s the utter distance between you and me! I will keep trying to catch up with you … 🐾

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          1. No matter how far I ascend…it is never high enough…there’s always higher…that itself creates the delusion.

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            1. The illusion of “there’s always higher” really must be your delusion. In my awestruck gaze, there isn’t much room for you to ascend – you are already high up in the space, a luminous embodiment of an infinitely intelligent universe …🦉

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Awwwww….I stand humbled before your praise. Thank you. Now…with that in mind fueling my latent ambition…I think I write a new chapter tonite…stay tuned!

                Liked by 1 person

      2. But I’m highly flattered by your comment…

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