sometimes we cross a bridge and do not look back

crossing an old wooden bridgeSF Bay bridge2I always find Bridges fascinating. Each one encompasses three main phases of life: beginning, ending and in-between. Some bridges we cross for a temporary purpose and we cross back after we have fulfilled that purpose. Some bridges we cross but never intend to return. Some we cross at predictable regular intervals like the crossing is an extended part of one’s being. Some we just never cross. Perhaps we do not have the opportunity to do so in this life. Is there a bridge I must cross but with great reluctance and a sense of immense loss? Yes. I believe the bridge is called “Goodbye, my love.” (Somehow I suspect everyone who loves has a bridge by this name)

old friends framed in time together

old friends copy
Old Friends.

A picture on the wall of a mining museum. A man and his dog. From the background it appears they sat for this portrait in the artist’s studio. How long had they been patiently sitting together in this posture? How many sessions? Perhaps not too long. In real life how long had they been friends? I recall two faithful dogs (our longstanding family friends) we used to have as kids. They were mother and son, the son lived about fifteen years, the mother lived eighteen years. They accompanied us growing up. After they were gone, I do not remember my parents keeping another dog.

how fleeting is evanescence?

How short or fleeting is the time span of Evanescence ? Can anyone give a definition in exact measurement?

I encountered this question when visiting an old abandoned/transformed mining town. How short is short? We just cannot tell. For the miners who used to live there during boom time, some might have thought the precious ores would last a long time in their own life span. Others might have joined much later and perhaps sensed time ticking away and soon they would have to move on. They were not alone. History does not change much. Any man would know soon that we are not getting younger. Man’s glory fades with time as the source we consider precious (in this case, valuable ores) depletes.

I quote excerpts from Wikipedia: “Virginia City was the prototype for future frontier mining boom towns, with its industrialization and urbanization. It owed its success to the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode. After a year in existence, the boomtown had 42 saloons, 42 stores, 6 restaurants, 3 hotels, and 868 dwellings to house a town residency of 2,345. At its height in 1863, the town had 15,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878, and the city itself declined as a result. As of the 2010 Census the population of Virginia City was about 855. Today, Virginia City is but a shadow of its former glory…”

For those interested in knowing more about the historical and mining background of the above photos, here are some links to wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_City_Historic_District_(Virginia_City,_Nevada)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comstock_Lode
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_City,_Nevada

taking root: the use of heritage

 Heritage I decide to share a few pictures of silver vessels from the heritage I came across recently. The owners passed on long ago and they left behind items which were kept in boxes for many decades. The items looked used but later possibly with the demise of the original masters (great grand parents) were packed up and stored away. No one seemed to notice their existence until I was led to dig them out of their dusty boxes. I brought them back to the heirs and they are not selling. As I mentioned in my previous post they are of value in terms of sentiments to those who inherit them. Although some individuals do not speak of their feelings, some do take grief seriously and for quite sometime. The man of the house passed away over a year ago and he left behind a very small family.

At first I thought they would rather sell off whatever old stuff they inherited as they had left home long ago and hardly returned. I even offered to get them restored to their original shine and was surprised when the new owners said they wanted to keep all.

I start pondering over the issue of root. We do not come from nowhere. We all have ancestors. Sometimes I wonder what they were like but most time I find it hard to even imagine their lives. Some families keep old photos and some keep old things. The things may or may not be of significant monetary value but they mean something to the descendants. And that meaning is very personal. Because they do not say why they decide to keep, I have not ventured to ask for a reason. No, I am not a nosy parker. I would like to know because I like to put pieces of history together so they form a complete picture like jigsaw puzzles. The whole piece of picture makes sense only when all the missing pieces are found and fit perfectly into the empty spaces which otherwise leave gapping holes. Once I spent half a year in a sibling’s house and witnessed the laborious way in which the whole family pooled their effort to identify the right spaces to fit the pieces which somehow seemed impossible to fit anywhere. Everyone who walked pass the puzzle tried to have a go at it in vain. Some pieces were dismantled and reassembled. Sometimes someone stayed up until the early hours staring at the pieces for inspiration. When the picture was finally completed they framed it up and celebrated the victory!

In a way we rely on disjointed pieces of old things to compile and preserve our own history. The root is never separated from the stems. Time is not really made of unconnected pieces. It’s just we cannot see the whole picture as each of us stands on a single spot at any one time on the time continuum. As we increase in our speed of life travel on this continuum we find it harder and harder to slow down and look back.

I like to think that this is why the millennials decide to keep something like old tea canisters or coffee cups made of comparatively more lasting matters, so that they can take a break at intervals on the very fast track. By the way, in UK I often have tea breaks and in US I have coffee breaks. In China? Both, these days.

whose heritage?

heirloom
Heritage
means something that is handed down from the past: as a tradition, a national heritage of honor, pride, and courage; something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; ; something reserved for one: the heritage of the righteous; something that has been or may be inherited by legal descent or succession. any property, especially land, that devolves by right of inheritance.

It is no coincidence that I recently came across a small heritage through a relative. The items are not exactly that old. The original owners lived around the time when the formation of the Republic of China as a constitutional republic put an end to 4,000 years of Imperial rule. The Qing dynasty, (also known as the Manchu dynasty), ruled from 1644–1912. I brought some of them back to the heirs who have confirmed that they are not selling. The above photo shows two Chinese Swatow (Shantou) Pewter Tea Caddy Containers (possibly a hundred or less years old), a Vintage Chinese Hand-carved Cork Art and a collection of modern poetry published in 1987 included because they were found together.

According to China Daily, Shantou people “drink more tea than anyone else in China. Shantou became a city significant in 19th-century Chinese history as one of the treaty trading ports established for Western trade and contact, sited both American and British Consulates. Today the historic quarter of Shantou features both Western and Chinese architecture. Online source states that about 2% of the population belongs to an ‘organized’ religion, with 40,000 Protestants, 20,000 Catholics and 500 Muslims.

What are the real values of heirlooms? No one can place any intrinsic value on any item except the heir herself/himself. In this case, I have checked the websites of some auction houses and found varying values have been cited on similar items. But the final word is from the heirs and they say, “No, we intend to just keep them.”

I try reading up the history of those who fled the strategic trading and battle port occupied by the Japanese army during 1939-1945 and moved to the rest of the world. I cannot imagine how they could have carried and preserved heavy tea canisters and other intricate sets of silver and beautiful fragile bone China tea sets which I have also found in that house.

There are many things we do not understand about the generations before us. I cannot understand their values and priorities. Perhaps I am too engrossed in the modern technology-savvy world in which we give high value to anything close to ‘weightlessness’. We grumble about a laptop weighing 3lbs and above. On the other hand, we do not mind going to the gym to lift heavy metal to get our muscles in tune.

Well, here are some realistic observations from a book I am reading, by a futurist.
“…For example, today’s high school students have a hard time understanding why Columbus risked life and limb to find a shorter trade route to the spices of the East. Why couldn’t he simply go to the supermarket, they ask, and get some oregano? But in the days of Columbus, spices and herbs were extremely expensive. They were prized because they could mask the taste of rotting food, since there were no refrigerators in those days. At times, even kings and emperors had to eat rotten food at dinner. There were no refrigerated cars, containers, or ships to carry spices across the oceans.) That is why these commodities were so valuable that Columbus gambled his life to get them, although today they are sold for pennies…”

Yet, on the other hand, the futurist admitted this, “…The point is: whenever there is a conflict between modern technology and the desires of our primitive ancestors, these primitive desires win each time. That’s the Cave Man Principle.” ”
― Michio Kaku, Physics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100

Agree. I would rather take a cup of hot tea with a spot of fresh milk than staring at the cold laptop in the cold, unheated cave. You know, the value of a laptop easily depreciates to zero within a couple of years. But a tea canister appreciates its value with decades/centuries and is still going strong.

A love called graceful and not let go (two poems)

star1jpg-6311515c13a99e7c(I translated, re-written and re-named this love song. I call it Gracefully love)

Even if I should come once to
this planet
in one dash
one kairos moment
in one billion years
joining you so brief
for all its sweet tears
and all its grief

Well, let all that must happen
happen in a flash
let me bow
humbly down
thanking all the stars
holding you  I won’t let go

penning this poem now
with an unseen hand
slowly growing old
holding you  I won’t let go
=======================

(1983 Taiwan Campus Folk Song) The original love poem was written by the Mongolian painter/poet/writer MuRong Xi , music by Su Lai  作詞:席幕容,作曲:蘇來

假如我來世上一遭,只為與你相聚一次;
只為了億萬年的那一剎那,一剎那裡所有的甜蜜與悲淒。

那麼就讓一切該發生的,都在瞬間出現;
讓我俯首感謝所有星球的相助,讓我與你相遇,與你別離。

完成了上帝所作的一首詩,然後再緩緩地老去;讓我與你相遇,與你別離。

(Poem II) “Since we parted –2” (I translated this second poem, rewritten, but tried to follow the original pattern of her thought)

And now I realize
what we have slowly squandered off
is one life we both have loved
our whole life, my beloved!
Parted
now
I
then
know

别後——之二 ◎‪‎席慕蓉 (MuRong Xi wrote this poem during her grief for the demise of her husband)
原來
用整整的一生來慢慢錯過的
竟是我們這唯一僅有的
整整的一生啊!

別後

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Blogger’s notes: photo credit goes to La Center’s Greg Marshall who photographs a universe most never imagine. By training, Marshall is an electronics engineer and computer-imaging expert, but the stars have led him into art. He catches images many light years away. I got it at random while browsing.

The poems are about love and loss. Instead of choosing sentimental pictures I decided to use the stars of the universe. The first poem took on a new meaning…I then decided to alter the poem to a hopeful end. A happy and prosperous Lunar New Year for my Asian friends!