Like most people, I was constantly admonished to “establish far- reaching ambitions”, “realize my self value” and “struggle to change my destiny” since I was a child. Full of fantasies about the future, I tirelessly strived for these goals. I had faith that all of my efforts would be rewarded one day.
It turns out that what these so-called “ideals” and “values” really advocated was nothing more than the lifelong pursuit of success and self- gratification.
Having struggled on this path for many years, in retrospect, Myself became bruised and scarred. So I stopped and started to look around. I saw that the “fortune” that I was working so hard for, was a given for some people when they were born. But for some others, it was a goal which remained unattainable until the time they left this world with a bitter regret even if they tried everything they could. There were others who had been kissed by Mother Fortune, and eventually saw their dreams come true, but they lost their own identity in the process and never lived in peace again. However, they were not regretful and believed that this was the significance of life. They were the successful examples for the future generations. They despised the losers and hurriedly resumed their journey, without realizing that when death arrives unexpectedly, it will take everything away without any mercy. They might never understand that their “success” had nothing to do with their “struggles”, but their promoting of the misconception would poison others beside themselves.
People are often confused by the ever-changing phenomenon, lost in the memories of the past and the planning for the future. They are not able to put away their hopes and fears, and settle down in the present, observing the nature of being with an eye of wisdom. So they try to get rid of things they do not like and grasp the things they are longing for. They jump into the abyss of pain without knowing it, as moths to the flame. Few people can realize that the process of avoiding pain causes more pain. Driven by fantasies, they are labouring and pursuing faulty values. They mistake instantaneousness for eternity; pain for joy, constantly fighting with the outside world, sometimes even at the price of their lives. They may obtain temporary benefits, but the course of their life is no more than a series of comedies and tragedies.
In this fast changing world, many people have grown from their humble origins to become public idols; many people in the high-ranking class have suddenly become prisoners. This is an endless circle, but people keep following the footsteps of others, without knowing that at the end everything will turn into dust and be lost in a gust of wind. Things which happen in life are unpredictable and difficult. Like others, I have to deal with them on a daily basis.
The strength of blind action is very limited and too weak to fight with the external power of society. People often praise pines and cypresses for their being tall and straight, and use them as the metaphors for dignity and incorruptibility. But if we plant them into the cracks on the cliff, they will be deformed and twisted in order to survive, or they will die. No one likes to face death. This is the common outcome when dignity conflicts with the need to survive.
In my eyes, human history is a series of paintings of uncountable individuals struggling for life, sadness alternating with joy. I have never heard of immortal trees or immortal humans, but in their short lives, both have to endure different degrees of pain for relatively long periods of time. That might be the exchanging of smiles, which are as fragile as soap bubbles and disappear in the blink of an eye, because human nature has never been changed by the development of society or the improvement of economic status.
My heart is frequently burdened when I think of this! It is the reason that my care for life is far beyond my love for art. In a certain period of my life, I thought art was more important than anything else in the world. Many years have passed since then. Today, to me, it was only the ignorance of a youth.
When I am alone, I often feel helpless and guilty: I have already wasted 33 years of my life, but I have never been able to bring happiness and joy to people, nor speaking out with a giant’s voice. I am just an ordinary being in the process of samsara. If I could use my meaningless skills to comfort the souls in pain or to inspire the viewers, I will be very satisfied.
Beijing, 15th December 2005