Childhood Paradise

Wei Mo

PureInsight | March 10, 2003

[] I was born in Mainland China. When I was a child, there was a vast prairie in front of my house. In the spring, I would collect wild herbs from that prairie. In the summer, I dredged up tadpoles. In the autumn, I picked wild fruit. In the winter, I built snowmen. Nature was my close friend and it gave me so much pleasure.

Back then, I often sat on the riverbank, looking at the sky and the prairie and marveling at the endless mysteries of nature's world. I'd rather believe in the myth where a chariot in heaven pulls the sun to rise from the east and fall to the west. I'd also rather believe in the myth where the beautiful rainbow is a bridge for the gods.

Sometimes, I would talk with the flowers and grass because I believed that they were alive and could hear me. The question that I frequently asked them was, "Why do humans exist in this world?" Nature was like an elderly scholar who helped to broaden my own wisdom and intelligence.

More than ten years have passed since those days. When I visited my hometown after graduating from college, I found that the green prairie was no longer there. Countless dusty gray streets and matchbox-like apartment buildings with layers of iron security gates replaced had it.

I walked along the streets, feeling disappointed. I hoped to find the fragrance of the soil and the sound of birds chirping again, but I had to accept that my childhood paradise had become a thing of the past. Then I began to wonder what the children do inside the buildings these days.

Perhaps, they are working on additional summer tutorial classes that their parents signed them up for, such as composition, math, English, or computer classes.

Or maybe they're working on the exercises in piles and piles of quiz books

Or maybe they're busy playing video games full of strange, twisted messages with violence and cursing.

Or maybe they're watching or reading things that they don't quite understand but somehow enjoy immensely, such as vulgar movies from Hong Kong and crude Japanese comic books.

Or …

I am not sure if the hearts of those children who have lost contact with nature have been turned from a green prairie into dusty, gloomy streets. Neither am I sure if the minds of those children, who are far away from animals and plants, have changed from a treasure that communicates with nature into cold hardened steel gates.

I wonder if my children will look down on me when I tell them my childhood stories.

One of these days, I wonder if I will tell my children that flowers are alive and have feelings of happiness and sadness. And that within each grain of sand, there is a whole world waiting to be discovered. Would they think that I am only telling an imaginary story, or would they laugh at me, thinking that I am insane?

I hope not.

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