Flying Geese and Sparrows

Day 29: Thursday, August 24, 2017

 

I always enjoy seeing and hearing wild geese flying overhead. Seeing them also reminds me of a fable, 孤雁 (gū yàn, Lone Goose) by 朱企霞 (zhū qǐ xiá). Unlike the fable of the boy who cried wolf with several false claims, the dedicated lone goose’s early warnings were ignored by others to the detriment of themselves. It’s a piece of beautiful Chinese writing that is unforgettable. I wasn’t able to find an English translation.

 

 

隹 (zhuī) is a pictograph of a short-tailed bird. When you see a Chinese character that has this component, it often has something to do with a bird.

 

For example, 集 (jí) is the combination of 隹, bird, and 木 (mù), tree. Originally, there were three 隹 components, but overtime this was simplified to just one. Picture birds gathering on a tree. Therefore, 集 also means get together, assembling, collecting, or even a market.

 

 

雁 (yàn), a wild goose, is the combination of 厂, 亻, and 隹. Some have said that 厂, pronounced hǎn, represents the sound made by wild geese. 亻 is the same as 人 (rén), meaning human. You can think of it as hunters going after the wild geese or, based on the shape, the V formation of flying geese.

 

雀, sparrow, is 小 (xiǎo), meaning small, and 隹, bird. A small bird. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will,” (Matthew 10:29) meaning do not worry about your own life. Chinese said, 麻雀雖小,五臟俱全 (má què suī xiǎo, wǔ zàng jù quán), literally a sparrow may be small, but it has all its vital organs, meaning it is small, but fully equipped.

 

 

Finding Time for the Boxes

 

After yesterday’s boxes post, Jane asked me when am I going to get the time to make the said boxes? As such, this morning I tried to write down some possible scenarios of what things would look like if I walked down this path.

 

I thought about the worst-case scenario, the best outcome, and somewhere in between. The worst would be going broke because of the high opportunity cost — spending all my time doing this and neglecting other profitable jobs — and no one caring. The best would be growing demand such that I can actually make this my main focus. Somewhere in between would be lukewarm reception with a few fans.

 

There’s no fixed cost and I don’t have to commit to anything, so everything is flexible and I can spend as much time as I have. I’ll see how it goes. Do I have at least one fan?

 

 

孤雁.作者:朱企霞

 

沙洲上,蘆叢中,寒星點點的夜裏,雁兒一對對交著頸子睡了。可是孤雁卻得不到安眠。「孤雁,好好地守著更吧!有惡人來了,要叫醒我們大家啊!」「好吧!」孤雁回答著,心裏卻覺得悲涼。寒星照在蘆葦上微微發光,猶如沾著了眼淚,風吹來,便真的窸窣地啜泣了。孤雁歛著翅膀,側著頭,小心地向四周偵望。

 

忽然間,看見蘆叢後火光一閃,一會兒,又一閃。孤雁一緊張,便立刻引吭呼叫起來。正睡著的雁也都醒來了,看一看四周,卻沒什麼事。大家於是發了怒,以為孤雁故意撒謊,生生地將牠們的美夢擾醒了。啄!啄!啄得孤雁瑟縮地躲在一邊暗自悲傷。

 

一對對的雁兒,又都交著頸子入睡了。忽然間,孤雁又看見一閃火光。牠警告自己:「別再無端打擾人家!」然而,接著又是一閃,又一閃,這一次,可總靠得住了吧!孤雁於是更為焦急,呼叫得也就更嘹亮了。「嘎咕!嘎咕!起來!起來!嘎咕!」然而,還是沒出什麼事。「守的什麼更!」孤雁自然又得被啄了,而且被啄得更厲害。牠被認為是幸福的搗亂者了。孤雁著實覺得委屈。

 

獵人拿著香炬在空中閃著,一次又一次。巨大的人影,也矗立在眼前了。孤雁於是急急地鼓著翅膀,破著喉嚨,只是叫喚。然而一對對交著頸子酣睡的雁兒,卻懶得來理會牠。

 

獵人們拿著網羅,越走越逼近,蘆葦也嗤嗤地響了起來。孤雁慌忙地拍拍翅膀飛到空中,卻還是急急地在拚命叫喚著。「嘎嘎!醒醒吧!醒醒吧!嘎嘎!」在這可怕的喧鬧聲裏,一對對酣睡著的雁兒,睡興還是濃濃的。

 

狡獪的獵人伸出殘酷的手,將一隻隻熟睡的雁兒放進了網羅。孤雁於是在空中瘋了似地迴繞著,嘎嘎地慘哭起來了。等到牠滴下了沉重的眼淚,才將這幸福中的一兩隻打醒。雖說是逃脫了性命,然而,卻已多半成為「孤雁」;「孤雁」從此也就多起來了。

 

 

Twenty years of providing meaningful Chinese characters for 3,000+ small businesses in North America and 45 countries worldwide. Created and Crafted in California, U.S.A.

Copyright © 2001-2022 Good Characters, Inc. All rights reserved. Good Characters — That's who we are; that's what we do. Privacy Policy