Sunday, January 18, 2015

Life After Peac Corps - A Story of Guilt

A Story of Guilt
January 18, 2015

A famous Chinese writer once wrote a story about his boyhood recalling an innocuous but yet cruel act towards his younger brother.  One autumn day, the author found his brother hiding inside a chicken shed, instead of performed his duties as instructed; the young boy was making a paper kit enthusiastically.  The author was frustrated and angry, without a word, he stepped on the nearly finished kit and smashed it into pieces.  He left his brother in the shed with misery.  It probably took his brother many hours to make that kit.   

Years later, they both grew up as an adult.  The author became a writer and his brother was a successful business man.  That innocent conduct resurrected one day from the author’s memory and since was tormenting him.  Finally on one family gathering, the author brought up the event.  To the author’s surprise, his young brother had no recollection of the occasion and laughed at his brother for remembering such a childlike thing.  But that did not make the author feel any better.  He carried that guilty conscious well into his old age and finally confessed his remorse through his writings.  That story caught my attention and stay with me for many years.

I was also once a young innocent but hot tempered adolescent.  Many such shameless acts were placed upon my elder sister.  Today, my sister may not remember any of those instances or possible she has already forgiven me.   Yet, like the author, I have this enormous guilt living inside me…………….

To err is human, to forgive, divine.

Not sure I can forgive myself, but one thing I can do.  We once grew up together, and we can certainly grow old together…..   

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Life After Peace Corps - Christmas 2014

December 25, 2014
Christmas Day

I usually get up at 5:00 but the holiday lazes me, now is 7:00 and I am still in bed.  Winter dawn comes later and later, and the globe seems to be slowing down every day.   I toss and turn, cannot stand it anymore, so I get up, make myself a cup of coffee and begin my Christmas day.

It is always a consoling feeling to sip hot drink and watch the winter saga playing outside the windown.  A sparrow flies in and sits on my balcony railing.  I welcome wildlife on this late December day.  Most birds already migrate to the south.  I wonder why this little creature still lingers here.   Seconds later, the bird takes a dive and disappears.  The persistent rain for the past few days finally ceases.  Sun comes out and displays a brilliant sunrise.  During the night the weather has moderated.  It turns out to be a warm Christmas morning after all.  I slide my balcony door open and let in some cool fresh air.   Instantaneously, my plants react with a positive acknowledgment.   Flashes of light scattered over them, they tilted at exactly the right angle to reflect the rays of the eastern sun.   Being trapped indoor, they have been unhappy for a long time, I know. 

My gaze turns back to the outside world.  Across the street, a tall handsome hickory tree was once thick with summer foliage now stands bare and stark, not a single leave remains on its bough.  For the past few days, with rain coursing down it and dripping down from its branches, there is now a sad beauty about the tree.  Summer diversifies, winter simplifies. Winter color is always gray and dull but yet peaceful and serene.   Winston Churchill once wrote in his wartime speeches, “O Lord, support us all through the day long, until the shadows lengthen and evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.  Then in Thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.  Winter is the time to rest and to regenerate.  I am certain, with the first hint of spring; young leaves of this hickory tree will unfold in no time.

After breakfast, I start taking my morning walk to the Four-mile run creek.  Recent sousing rain has given the river a full force of life.  Instead of murmuring quietly, today, the brook is gashing, plunging, tumbling, in some places rumbling.  “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”.  I have seemed what water does to the canyons of southern Utah.  The incessant water movement shapes and adds characters to the river.  Idyllic pools, deep water pockets, and singing cascade are formed.  In places, the soft river surface reflects images of the forest and blue sky.   The woods, in the mid of a cold harsh winter, still exerts a magnetic spell.  It is a delight to walk along its meandering bank and watch a Christmas morning progressing inside this urban forest.
No one really comprehends God’s intention to give the earth four distinct seasons.  For some folks winter may serve no purpose.  They dislike winter so much that they prefer to live permanently in the south.    As I increase my walks in the woods and get closer to nature, winter, like spring, summer and fall has its unique allure.  Maybe it is the crisp cold air, or perhaps it is the stillness and tranquility, quite possible the aloof and solitude. 

In a bleak and, to most, cheerless day of winter, when most people are thinking of their warm cozy home, “I come to my woodlands walk as the homesick go home” Henry David Thoreau loved his Walden Pond,  John Muir worshiped the high Sierra, I fancy my Four-mile run creek.   

Monday, November 24, 2014

A walk in the Wood

A walk in the Wood
November 16, 2014  

Early this morning, when I leave my apartment and enter into the wood, the sun is half hidden behind clouds.  The unseasonal cold temperature keeps most people indoor, so I have this “wilderness” all by myself.   It is pleasant sitting by the creek watching the leaves – now rusting into brown – go drifting by. After rain in the night, the path is covered with soggy leaves.  The moist air is laden with the scent of gentle decay.  In the still woods of November, I saunter aimlessly and recognize plants that I stopped besides when they were green, and when they were in bloom.  The plants of summer, now dead and dry, mingle in their varied shades of yellow and brown.  In walking among them, I sometimes envy the simplicity of their lives.  Without straining, without aspiring to more than they can achieve, they grow and bloom and form their seeds.  They seem to be contented with their life cycle completed.  I hope when my time to retire, I can feel the same way, nothing to regret, nothing to desire.

The wood is splendid with fall colors.   I do not need to travel far to witness the New England autumn foliage.  Surrounded by the golden forest and scarlet bushes, I follow the trail and reach my favorite spot; the Carlin spring.    The mirror of the spring water reflects, amid floating fallen leaves, the image of trees growing bare as autumn advances.    It is peaceful here.  Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house”.  I understand exactly what he meant.

Three hours later when I emerge from the wood, the sky opens up.  The sun peeks through clouds.  As usual, every walk in the wood, I rejuvenate; gain back the energy that I need to face more challenges from life.

A walk in the wood, it is a good thing!