This is a scene that I love to see over and over again when I go for a walk in Hong Mei Gong Yuan in ChangZhou. With the sun out and being in a “sunny” mood, it is easy to buy into the illusion created in the park, an illusion of a time and place that has existed only in the heart of the people, a place dreamed about and wished for as the people went about living in a world that never matched the illusion. But still, the illusion is taken as a reality of a golden era from the past and celebrated as “heritage.”
Ever curious, I wondered how this illusion would look from the other side. I know that there must be balance which has to lie somewhere between the two versions of reality. I think of myself when all is right in my world and the sun is shining and all of my needs have been met. At that point in time, there are no blemishes, no ugliness in the world. People smile and embrace me and I smile and embrace back. Yet, when I am in a depression, the world is dark and colour is almost non-existent. I am alone and the world looks a forbidding place that is ready to destroy me, to swallow me up.
When somewhere in the middle, I see both beauty and ugliness. The world is a shifting mass of conflicting colours and ideas. It is impossible to find right or wrong, the perfect good or the perfect evil. Yet, evil is present. But somehow, even in the evil there is goodness. And in the good, shadows are present. I think here of the world today where the Arab world is viewed with many different lenses with some seeing it as a dark pit of evil while others see it as the hope for a new world. I also think of America which is also viewed with so many different lenses which cast it in the role of demon and of angel. The truth is, somewhere in between.
Though knowing this, I am guilty of wanting perfection, wanting to be an angel of truth, deathly afraid of being a demon in disguise. Perhaps the greatest fear is being a nobody trapped in between, invisible to my self and others.