Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Pensive Hour

More thoughts from Joe Brooks

     No matter what the season, we often find a reason for lifting ourselves from the couch of ease and wending our way unto the presence of the Pharaoh’s.

     It was with this sense that I entered the other day into the garden at my friend’s home and saw the beauties of nature unrolled.  It was a pleasure, just once in a while, to become one of the gifted-treasured unto heaven and walk among the blossoms of spring; to touch the budding promise of eternity and laugh at what the Romans called, “the fear of happiness.”

     The day had been cloudy and threatening of rain, the hour of the “Sheep” had passed and nothing promised to make the day become more cheerful.  In my friends’ reasoning it was simple that I should be happy so he invited me to visit his home.

     As I passed along the walks, I saw the flowers blooming with a promise that was eternity; that budding promise, swollen with the flush of life.  Within the ponds the tiny, golden fish flickered back and forth from shadow into brilliant light until they adorned themselves with incandescence of rainbow flame.  Watching them I envied, for the moment, their contentment to be confined within the narrow bend.

     I talked with my friend and we wondered of the past days and the coming hours for our beliefs.  What of the hope of freedom and enactment, the prayers of liberation, the dreams of self-acclaim.  This tiny emerald dream within its pearl-jade setting was more than just an island, so we said.  This land must be an inspiration for the greatness of mankind, the assurance of the oppressed that someday they, like us, might wallow in the trough of happiness.

     And as we chanced to past, just once again the pond of golden fish, I saw one – that renegade – jump and try to flee the borders of his home.  He lit upon the mossy bank, and in his landing flattened two or three small ferns which grew among the lichen green of lacy fen upon the stones.  

      And in the wake there followed others, bravely defiant of the boundaries which life had set upon their way of life, seeking a moment’s daring; a short and garish span of elementary heaven among the foreign fields which hemmed them in.

     And watching them, I began to know the reason for this feeling.  Here was all of mankind, hemmed within the dry and brackish water of our daily life and feeling, striving, wanting something which is always beyond our touch.  This, then, is our life.  Passing back and forth unto our daily work; our hemisphere a bleak and barren landscape of nights and days.

     But there are those among us who are daring, who will chance the fate and breast the currents of the day, and leaping forth will land among the strange and untrod banks that border our narrow lives.  There are among us who have visions and dreams of other ways.

     How lucky we are for these, the pioneers of our society, who knowing our restrictions, strive with might and life to thrust themselves through the barriers of their existence into those wild and untried fields of other life.

     This then is progress; civilization upon the march.  It is our purpose and our background; the long and sorry history of man, that measured inch by inch upon the printed page, becomes a soliloquy of waste, but taken in the whole reflects the progress of the ages.

     These several hundred words or so,  are my emotions penned upon the visit through a friend’s spring garden walks.  They are nothing but impressions, and as such are vague and elemental as a touch of fog that kisses the curtains of our open windows upon a cold and elemental night.

     I love to walk in gardens, for there we find a digest of our lives, comparable to only that which challenges us within our days.  I love to walk in gardens, but sometimes I find it frightening to know my limited existence, don’t you?

Reprinted with permission. 
Joe Brooks wrote a column for the China Post newspaper in the mid 1950s.

  This story and other articles found in this Blog came from his book, 
"From A Yankee Notebook in Taiwan"

Find more information about Joe Brooks and this series of articles HERE

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