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?


















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