Jian lived in a valley in the northern Hubei Province. In the valley, life was peaceful, like a never ending river, having its own slow and unchanged pace.
He grew up in the valley like a wild monkey, having very simple joys and worries, even though, he cherished a vague desire to get out of the valley and look at the big world.
If days had continued to go that way, Jian might have led a happy simple life, like the wild grasses in the wild field, didn’t have much ups and downs.
But, when Jian was fourteen years old, a star shower was predicted in Jian’s hometown. How magnificent it was! The star shower continued for a whole week. A lot of people from outside came there, and reported about the unprecedented event.
Millions of shining stars shot through the black sky dragging long tails. In the depth of the night, all those meteors were burning and radiating, and then quickly disappearing.
It felt like forever, and a not-to-be-forgotten experience, no matter how short it was. It was there radiating and shining, throughout the rest of the life.
A celebrated martial arts master also visited the small valley. One day, he took a walk in the beautiful valley.
Accidentally, he saw Jian playing parallel bars in the playground.
Jian was playing happily at the time. He hung himself upside down upon the parallel bars, and looked everything upside down. He could see all those extensions of green fields, and beautiful wild grasses, and colorful butterflies lighting up the green fields, and then, he saw a pair of feet approaching.
For the martial arts master, Jian seemed very soft and well built, healthy and energetic, daring and fearless, and in one word, he was just the one for martial arts. He decided to take on him as a disciple.
Jian and his parents were both very excited by the good news. Now, Jian was able to get out of the small valley and do great things in his life, and bring honors to the family.
It was at the top of Mountain Hua surrounded by a lot of clouds, very quiet, undisturbed and isolated, far from noises and turmoil of the world.
But, it was not a place for leisure or pleasure.
He got a robe of black and white. Black was the symbol of death and determination. White was the symbol of winter and coldness.
He had got to get up at six o’clock, and started the day’s training. His daily schedules was like, running around the mountain, eating, studying martial arts principles and meditating, punching and kicking the trees, practicing jumping from one tree to another, eating, taking a short rest, fighting with other disciples, practicing with weapons, eating, taking a walk, reading, hand-to-hand combats.
He also read a lot of novels about martial arts, such as, Become the Best Martial Artist in One Month, Ten Biggest Secrets to Success, Who is The Next Martial Arts Master, Interesting Ways to Practice Martial Arts, How to Beat Down Your Enemy Effectively~~~
He practiced very hard, and was determined to become a good martial artist like his master. When he felt painful and unbearable, he had got to clench his fists, and set his teeth. Nobody sympathized with a loser.
Getting up with the moon hanging, going to bed with the stars shining, six years passed with his concentrated and harsh trainings in the Hua Mountain.
He became the one that he used to dream about a lot.
He had the kind of cold expressions, as unapproachable as the snow of the highest snow mountain. He was so cold that you would unconsciously feel chilly when he was standing nearby. When all those leaves were falling down, you could only see the proud and lonely figure, who never say no, never complain, never laugh, never cry. All that mattered was winning at all costs.
He also had the blood curding calmness. “He never batted his eyelashes even if Mountain Tai were split open right before him”(an ancient Chinese saying from苏洵《心术》). It was necessary to stay deadly calm and unmoved, but when it was time to move, move like a flash of lightening.
What’s more, he started to be attracted to all mysterious and black things unconsciously, such as a black stone, a gray and degrading piece of withered autumn leave, and a mushroom which was all baked to ashes and dusts, and also, songs describing moonlight, separations, sad love, lies, suffering, melancholy and so on.
He seemed to be pulled and pulled into a whirl of black gravitational forces unconsciously.
But, was he happy and satisfied?
Actually, behind his stubborn and hard face, he was only filled with more and more doubts and fears.
One day, he was walking on the road very quickly after beating down an enemy. Even though, he beat down the enemy by using every means and trick, he only felt exhausted and worn away, ready to collapse. Every breath seemed to be gone from him, he felt like a fallen withered leave.
He passed by a large patch of rice field. There was a shepherd boy playing a flute. The shepherd boy was sitting astride a buffalo. He wore a big straw rain hat behind him. He seemed to be very leisurely and happy, with a very natural happiness about him. (This scene came from a famous traditional Chinese poem ”清明”)
Jian seemed to be touched by the happiness and the innocence. He seemed to remember his childhood. He decided to have one last attempt before he put his own desperate life to an end.
He said farewell to his master and went to a little tranquil town in the southern plains of the Yangtze River. He decided to become a reclusive, and saw if his broken bleeding heart could be mended again.
The town was like a hometown, a place for rest and peace. The charm of it was very poetic and subtle.
Willows turned green in spring, peach trees were loaded with pink blossoms, reflecting and fluctuating in the river.
“In spring, the river is all green, and at sunrise, flowers are all flaming.” By Bai Juyi.
At night, lamp lights were shimmering yellowish, so warm like the color of the moon.
Everything there was just breathtakingly perfect.
When a fallen leave danced casually in the wind.
When the bright morning glory flowers were sparkling and laughing around a withered tree.
When several tiny hands of a climbing vine clasped tightly upon a strong tree trunk.
He seemed to be able to feel the life, energy, and beauty out of everything once more, the strong natural will to grow up and to feel the sunshine.
He felt a natural impulse to paint all those beauties down, so as to have a witness to God’s amazing creations. So, he started to try painting. Very surprisingly, he did painting very effortlessly and absorbed. He seemed to find out about his passions, what he was meant for. When he was with his painting brush and rice paper, he seemed to be afraid of nothing.
But he still couldn’t quite forget about the cruel past. Everything about it was so nightmarish, which seemed to have grown into him and become part of him. Sometimes, he would feel very nervous and breathless when even walking on the road, like his enemies suddenly appeared. Sometimes, he felt that his intestines were all upside down and messed up.
But, still the different kind of life was building up inside of him. Those green leaves, clear river water, leisurely free life seem to be growing inside of him.
When he felt unbearable and painful, he could also confide his painful experiences to his paintings. Painting relieved him of his pains, doubts, fears, horrors and illusions. Instead of letting all his negative thoughts going rioting inside of his stomach, it was much better to let them out. After he had taken out his pains, he could feel much better, as if that all was nothing, and he was surprised that he ever got such a big deal out of nothing.
Sometimes, it felt as if he was destined to become a painter. Sometimes, he even forgot about eating and sleeping.
As he painted on and on, surprisingly, his paintings started taking on more and more warm colors and beautiful images, the darkness seemed to be washed away bit by bit. In time, he became a prolocutor of good faith.
One misty afternoon, the slight wind was blowing very tenderly. Somewhere, a lutanist was playing a lute.
Jian was standing upon an arch bridge, dressed in a loose water blue robe. He enjoyed the scenery very much. And then, he put up the easel, and took his brush, ready to paint down the beautiful scenery.
He painted on and on, but, the next time he looked up from his painting, he saw a most lovely girl paddling a boat and appearing in the picturesque scenery.
“She was dressed in an apricot red shirt. Her hair was as black as the crow. She went by boat and picked up lotus seeds in the river. Lotus flowers were so tall that they surpassed her head, and sheltered her. Then she bowed her head and played with those green lotus seeds. And she put those lotus seeds in her sleeves. She looked up at those flying birds which all perched at the small island. At sunset, all those butcher-birds were flying away. The wind was blowing across the Chinese tallow tree.” (come from a traditional Chinese poem “西洲曲”)
He stared, seeming to be unable to move away his eyes. Then, obviously, she also became aware of his staring, and turned her beautiful eyes upon him, and smiled, her lips curved into a beautiful shape.
One day, he held a charity exhibition. A lot of people came there, because they all loved his paintings. They said that they felt very happy and warm looking at them.
That girl appeared again, and they recognized each other, and got to know more about each other. She was naturally sunny, happy and kind. They found out that they were just meant for each other~~~