March 17, 2014
Few weeks ago at work, a completely innocent event turned into a drama. People were hurt, in tears. Stressful work environment has made some people turned into evils, kindness was forgotten, and hatred prevailed. I went home with sadness……Then I thought about my early retirement, how much I look forward to its arrival.
Ancient times in China, there were hermits hided deep inside mountains for various reasons. Some tried to escape political prosecution, some avoided paying taxes, others simply chose to live a quiet surroundings, ran away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
A famous Chinese poet whom I admire greatly did just that. He resigned from his high paid government job and chose to live alone in the wilderness. He left behind his luxurious home and settled in a small cottage deep in a mountain. With no servant except a young helper attending his daily needs, he made no contact to the outside world. He often took long walk in forests or on high mountains, rested along riverbank or traveled to remote canyons.
Once he ventured to a deep valley and discovered an entrance to a small village. Inside, light fragment of wild flowers permeated the entire area; creeks covered with sweet, cool, clear and unfailing spring water, small animals darted from bush to bush, song birds called out to their lovers with sweet melodies, butterflies, dragonflies, bees and tiny insects filled the air with buzzing sound. Handsome strong young men worked in the fields, their attractive wives attended young children by the courtyards, and elders weaved bamboo baskets under the shade of willow trees. The poet was completely hypnotized by the beauty, tranquility, and peacefulness of the picture before him.
During his stay, he was treated with kindness, courtesy and respect by the chief and villagers. Later he realized that the villagers had no knowledge of the world other than their own. They lived in harmony with nature, had no desire for things other than foods on table, cloths to keep them warm, and family to foster love. Everyone was happy, healthy and content. The poet went home and few months later, returned to the valley. No matter how hard he tried, he could not locate the entrance to the village again. With much disappointment and sorrow, he quickly wrote down as much as he remembered about the place and he named the place as his Shangri La.
Inspired by his Shangri La, he continued to travel faraway places and created many more poetries. Many of them are still adored and treasured by many literature lovers and academic students today. This is my favorite one:
Evening is approaching,
Love Birds are returning to their nest
The mountain is resting and the forest is darkening
There are profound meanings in all this,
But I cannot find an appropriate word to describe it
This poem stays with me throughout my life and each time when beautiful scenery appears before me, this verse resonates. I, however come up with an appropriate word to describe what I saw, or I should say, how I felt. It is “Simplicity”.
I may not find a mountain, a canyon, a valley or a forest as remote and as beautiful as those described by the poet, but I will find a place for my retirement where I can find peacefulness and serenity, where I can meet people who are kind, gentle and down to earth, where money is not the most important word in a daily life, where air, sun, water and flowers are far more important than anything else, where people are content with foods on tables, cloths to keep them warm, and family to foster love, where nature provides all necessities, and ultimately, where happiness can be found. That will be my Shangri La.