When I stroll along this street, the restaurants specializing in French and Thai cuisine, the stores serving stinky tofu delicacies, the various cafeterias and snack stands, as well as the florist’s shop and the laundry: all these are just the background. The smiling faces of the young people I see, their vivacious gait and the way they greet each other are the real attractions.
Occasionally, I see only very few people when I pass by— perhaps, grabbed by some coincident impulse, they have all flocked someplace else to enjoy some joint merry-making. However, sounds of hearty laughter spill out of the doors and onto the street all the same, as if their jolly voices, accumulating in the shops day by day, have eventually become permanent residents there. I often visit the florist’s shop on this street for a bouquet, yet what delights me most are always those blooming young men and women. At times I wonder to myself: Was my smiling face in my younger days as gorgeous and candid as
I do not grieve over the fact that this is not my street.
That’s not what really matters. I’ve been privileged to meet so
many youthful faces and witness so many energetic gaits while
strolling up and down this street. They keep coming and going,
making the world stay young even though it has undergone all
kinds of changes. In them I do find a sort of happiness.
Of course, I seem to have become younger because of
them. I stroll leisurely and comfortably in this youthful street. This means that the street has granted me “due recognition”. It doesn’t really matter that I am a passer-by rather than a “regular member” of this street. It’s very likely that I’ll find my same old self in the mirror when I return home. However that may be, I’ll keep strolling along this street and indulge in this most delightful form of self-delusion.
Actually, I think more about the flowers when I bring home
After all, flowers do not have many touching stories to tell before they wither. As for people, no matter how small and
unimportant they may be, people are engaged in all sorts of events throughout their lives. People thrive on these events. In the midst of the words and laughs of people, sundry happenings are put onstage on this street.
I seldom visited that street after moving to my new apartment. One day I walked incidentally through a safety island in my neighborhood. The trail on the safety island is flanked with trees. When I looked up to the sky, all I could see were trees and nothing else. Occasionally, young women who came here to walk their dogs crossed my path. I stepped aside to yield the way to them, and sometimes to their dogs. Then I was all by myself again. I kept walking, all by myself.
Most of the time I was all by myself. I did not know the names of the trees. Was that the reason why the trees began to gaze at me quietly?
Gazing back at the trees, to my amazement I found that trees were youthful, too. How could they be young and silent? Walking through the groves seemed to be another way of experiencing youth.
That’s it. Trees are green, so they must be youthful.
To my surprise, I did not want to come across any other person at that time. I even thought that among trees, people were superfluous. Perhaps I was superfluous, too. Suddenly I thought of that favorite street of mine. What would it be like if that street were to be transplanted into this grove?
I walked across one safety island after another. No matter how many twists and turns I took, wending my way in and out of the trees, I knew I would reach the end of the trail eventually. It was like strolling along that street. I would get confused by all the twists and turns, not sure whether I’d strayed into another street or was still in the same one. Yet in the end I would certainly emerge at its far end.
Because of that street, I had been unwilling to move to a new place. When I finally did, it left an odd feeling inside of me. Now that I have the trail among the trees, I tell myself that I will definitely not move again.
Suddenly I become apprehensive at the prospect that someone will tell me he’s found in the neighborhood a favorite spot apart from his own sweet home. Such a revelation would certainly deprive me of my self-complacency! Before anyone can deflate my “pride of victory”, I’d better announce in triumph, “I bet none of you are aware of this: while a large number of people display the beauty of abundance, this dense congregation of trees exhibits the beauty of magnitude!”