One’s life can be seen as a long journey in search of the meaning of existence itself, like the elegant verse “I go up the stream in quest of him, but the way is arduous and long”（“溯洄从之，道阻且长）. We will behold different vistas in our journey, by which we gradually shape our thought and form our own experiences. In the latest issue of “The teacher’s story,” we invite Miss Bai Shenhao to share her story in academic learning and her journey through life.
7 years ago, I enrolled at the Tsinghua University, foreign language faculty after Gaokao had taken place. Because of my feverish interest in English and linguistic competence, many people have been asking me two questions throughout these years: Why don’t you study abroad? Why don’t you study at Peking University? These two questions are quite conceivable, but actually, I didn’t waver between the options the questions suggest and my choice to Tsinghua. This can be attributed to the fact that although I love English, I also love Chinese, and Tsinghua University is the only university that can quench my thirst, without losing professionalism, in these two languages.
When I was in grade 12, I occasionally read the book “The inherent beauty of English poetry” by Wang Zuoliang, the master in translation, in which the poem of Thomas Gray, William Wordsworth was introduced in this small pamphlet with a blueish-grey front cover. I secretly but voraciously read the line “And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave. Awaits like the ‘inevitable hour.’ (Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard). And my idol Mr. Lin Yutang, who “stand on both realms of Chinese culture and Western culture, and appreciate using true heart the literary works of the universe’, was also teaching in Tsinghua university. So, I, at the age of 18, made a wish that I would take a lesson of Lin Yutang and become the protégé of Wang Zuoliang. The obsessive love for a school now seems a bit young and irrational, but this unreasonable attraction had silently sowed two precious seeds: a pure horizon and a transcendent heart.
Entering the university was just like meeting with the other half of your life that you have dreamed of. In the inauguration ceremony, I was moved to warm tears. As I heard the inculcation of my teachers, I promised to be a virtuous and accomplished scholar. Four years later, under the same vault, in the same sports stadium, the commencement ceremony was held. However, having listened to the aspiration of the most outstanding colleagues, I felt that I was disorientated by their sheer superiority in academics, but it is the very day that I made many friends that I can confide to and embrace, who spread to the four corners of the globe, ploughing on their own land. I began to realize that the journey of life is at great length, it’s unlikely to find the way and destination. The life of most people is not like a swift arrow from an archer’s bow, which is inevitably reckless and frantic, but rather like Odysseus who fight against the fierce rival on the sea while considering his ultimate intention. Indeed, all we can have is the time to surf on the sea and Troy to conquer. It seems that living is to experience that interval of time and conquering the city, as for “conquering the ocean”, where is the boundary of the reign of Poseidon?
In comparison to conquering difficulties itself, battling with the unfounded desire to defeat everything is more difficult. In the international conference in Harvard, the great people are never absent; on the stage of the amphitheater, the person with flair is ever in presence. It might be possible by putting lots of hard graft on yourself to become a person under the focal point, but think twice, is that the kind of person you really want to be? Before doing a thing, asking your own heart is always prior to contrasting with others, otherwise, only anxiety and perplexity will be predominant. Behind the poster on the road, lies the most beautiful scenery in the campus, trespassing the green luster that has a style of English countryside, there is a small hill, and a streak, beyond which is the monument of Mr. Wang Guowei, on which the ancient prose“ But this independent spirit and free thought, has gone through thousands of years and will stay with the world perpetually, and shed its eternal light.”
Although impressed and enlightened, I was not yet satisfied. All students studying humanities probably have a few tossing and turning nights, to overcome the torture to their souls: “What have you learned? What is the significance of it?” Indeed, those moments when I sense the prosody of Shakespeare’s Sonnet in the warm afternoon sunshine, appreciating 《The Moonlit Night on the Spring River》(春江花月夜), thinking about the universe and the moments of life by the lotus pond, are romantic and authentic in my memory. But these moments are like the smoke and light of incense, fragrant and obscure but after the burn, there is barely anything to grasp. Could it be said that learning literature is just to gain a sense of superiority in aesthetic taste? It reminds me of the Confucian ethics of ancient Chinese scholars who “worry about the world before anyone else”. In the small apartment in London, the despair and the sullenness of post-modern theory made my soul sink deeply. Could it be said that learning humanities are just to be morally exclusive? For a long time, I felt that I am a useless person that I can only cry for myself, but I can’t reduce the pain of others. I was analyzing Wang Yangming’s “the unity of knowing and doing”, but I cannot achieve “the unity of knowing and doing” myself.
When you are stuck in the current of a river, is it more preferable to go downstream and think while going; or press the pause button first and consider carefully before a conclusion is drawn? After my bachelor’s degree was obtained in London, and after giving myself one year to find my true want, when I was just on the brink of giving up thinking, I met you guys，my dear students.
You are the ones who truly rekindled me.
In your eyes, I finally found the meaning of what I have learned. I find that my professional knowledge is tailored to provide you with practical help, free your time and complete more challenging tasks; I find that those beautiful sentences can bring you to rejoice and comfort; I find those difficult and complicated the problem can bring you a mirror to reflect upon; I found that paying attention to your life let us learn to love each other… I found that when I dedicate my life, I have harvested a better life.
The world has become wider, the crust under me has become adamant.
And for all this, I must thank you, thank you for the beautiful youth and endless hope in you.
Finally, I want to share some truthful words with you who have precious youth:
No matter what you do, don’t be blind, don’t stop thinking, keep looking for things of real value.
What is the most precious thing in life? This question is worth looking for the answer with the best youth, and then devote to it with the entire life. In order to find this answer, it is worth an abundance of effort.
- Time is precious, read more, read good books.
- Cherish your purest curiosity for the truth. Less utilitarianism, less worry.
- Don’t be afraid to find. But stop looking. Think more, try more, and accept more.
- Love the people around you. Help and communicate more. Confucius said, “Friends that are straightforward, honest, and friends who know more are the most helpful.” In the Bible, it is dictated that “love your neighbor as you love yourself”