Yin Dih 隱地
translated by Jonathan YING 殷立仁
| When one begins to age, he will discover that his friends
and relatives are also getting old, with sickness becoming a
ubiquitous companion, always hearing about someone who
either has fallen or gone to the hospital. There is hardly any
good news but an endless stream of bad news.
Suddenly I thought of an old saying: “Birth, old age, sickness, and death.” Between birth and death are two words that
most certainly make one feel disinterested and helpless: old age
and sickness. Old age and sickness, old age and sickness–when one gets old, sickness follows.
Is it really like this? An old person is just like an old tree.
Although an old tree always has yellow leaves falling from its
branches, it is still alive and well. So long as an old person remains upbeat, there are still another thirty years of happiness
between sixty-five and ninety-five years of age. So there is no
need to be pessimistic. What is important is that an old person
needs to seek his own pleasure and have his own purpose for
living. I believe that is what is meant by “the art of living” or
“living within/among art.”
Finding enjoyment within the world of “art” either through
observing or creating will give one an endless amount of happiness.
In theory, so long as an old person has something that he
wants to do and couple that with the lessons from his life experience
and knowledge from reading books, a reasonable old person
will not fight with his younger family members all day long.
An old person has his own independent style and personality.
Needless to say, an intelligent old person must have his own
worldview so that even if he were to die alone he would have no
regrets. I have lived and so I shall die. That is the way it has
always been–joy and adversity, reunion and separation. I cry
and I laugh are as natural as thunder and rain. There is sound
and lightening; after the clouds and wind pass, the sun will shine
gloriously, the moon hides and reappears, how poetic is nature!
As a guest of nature, with what do you have to be dissatisfied
There are, of course, traps and obstacles throughout life’s
journey, but have we not walked all the way to the end? You
should celebrate your good fortune, otherwise how can you be
called an old person? An old person is the jewel in the crown of
humans. All those who are already considered old and are over
sixty-five should raise up their hands in celebration and say,
“Ah, I have made it through all of life’s vicissitudes. I had have
difficult times, been taken advantage of by others, and been discriminated against. All of these sad memories are all in the past.
Now I have finally become an old person and saved up a few
hard-earned dollars. I have my own hobbies and from here on
out, I can live the life that I want to live. I no longer need to go
to work and pay attention to the clock. I am retired. I now
belong to myself. I can either relax at home or enjoy the outdoors.
I can get together with old friends to talk about the old
times. Ah, what else can be better than what is right in front of
my eyes? And to top that off, my life, as I recall, has been full
of happiness and wonder.
“I have seen countless thoughtful movies that were full of
depth and breadth. Movies and books let me forget my worries;
they make me more substantial, allow me to grow, and make my
life more robust. Outside my own small existence, I can empathize
with the tens of thousands of other lives. Movies and
books have given me another pair of eyes. In the process, my
heart has been purified.”
I cannot forget the joy of drinking coffee. Whenever I have
a lot on my mind, a cup of coffee always relaxes me, even
relieving me of my temporary headache. And there is also tea.
There are so many wonderful things on this earth for me to
enjoy. This is why I used to love travelling to different countries
around the world because as soon I board the plan, flight
attendants would smile at me and ask “Coffee or tea?” I can
choose. Yes, the right to choose is mine. As you can see, with a
simple utterance, a tasty beverage will be brought right to me.
Is life not good enough? How about eating a piece of
candy to sweeten our mouths and our hearts? All of life’s heartaches
will be temporarily forgotten.
There are many wonderful things in the space between
“birth, old age, sickness, and death” and they are as mysterious
as they can be. As you know, if you keep on harking over life’s
pains and difficulties, then you will naturally forget the happiness
that comes with old age.
Why not be a happy old person? When worries strike you,
lift up your head and look out the window at the old tall tree.
An old person can, too, live life to the fullest!
From Yin Dih’s 隱地 Wo de yan-jing 《我的眼睛》[My eyes]. Taipei: Elite
Publishing, 2008, 219-222.