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Look Up At the Stars

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In an age when most people are rushing to their next destination, be a person who occasionally looks up at the stars.

In “The Moon and Sixpence” by W. Somerset Maugham, the main character says that he has tried his best to live an ordinary life, which was probably the fate of the majority.

Some people look down at the ground for sixpence, while some people look up to see the moon in the sky.

As for a boring life, some people choose to accept fate and muddle along. But the inwardly rich man has drawn a flower in dull life and painted suffering into a poem.

More important than life is attitude and lifestyle, and the man who loves life, regardless of what fate has sent him, always tries to play it well.

There is no such thing as a truly rich life, but you can still try to take a good afternoon nap. You can’t sit and make footprints under a wave of maple trees, but you can make time for playing chess to enjoy a brief break.

Take life seriously, and you will find that a meal and vegetables, a day and night are perfect, and you won’t be complain anymore. You will only be in awe of life.

Whatever the world does to you, may you be as brave and hopeful as ever.

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Author W. Somerset Maugham (picture from Wikipedia)

The original Chinese text is from https://www.weibo.com/3611356753/FhPiBipga?type=comment#_rnd1530516812435.

The Story of Zen

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Years before, the only chrysanthemums in the village were grown by the lead monk in the temple garden. Three years later, in the fall, the garden became known as “the garden of chrysanthemums,” the fragrance wafting through the air to the village.

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Everyone who visited the temple admired the garden. One day, someone asked the lead monk if they could take some chrysanthemums to grow in their yard. Quickly, the monk agreed and picked out the best, most colorful flowers for him. Soon, the news spread and people started to come, one after another, to ask for the flowers. In the eyes of this monk, those people were very close to him and deeply cherished. They were all good friends, and he could not deny them the flowers. Pretty soon, all of the flowers in the garden were gone. None was left.

Without the chrysanthemums, the garden was colorless and desolate. Seeing how barren the garden was, one of the disciples sighed and said, “What a pity. We had such color and fragrance and now we don’t even have a single flower. There is nothing left in the garden.”

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Understanding their disappointment, the leader said, “Just think about it. In three years, the whole village will have chrysanthemums. Isn’t that better than having them only here? The whole village will be full of the wonderful fragrance.” When the disciples heard this, they felt the warmth of love from their leader and visualized the fantastic sight of the blooming of hundreds of chrysanthemums in the village.

The leader continued, “It is such a good thing to share, for everyone can enjoy this blessing. Even though we gave them out, with nothing left to us, we still feel the joy in our hearts. We truly own our  happiness.”

The moral of this story is that spring does not arrive with the blossoming of a single flower. When you see hundreds of flowers blooming, you know that spring has come. Sharing brought not only the spring but also the joy to the village.  What a great lesson that this lead monk taught us! That is when we have(or own) the happiness, we can always give or share with the others.  The happiness resides within; it is not affected by the material outside. Moreover, It is more delightful to share the joy than to keep it to oneself.

A Simple Thought

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A simple thought can change your environment. It can change your world. If we all have positive thoughts, then it is possible to change the whole world. My friend told me a story about when he was buying groceries in the supermarket. As he was getting a cart, he noticed some small trash in his carts. Before, he didn’t pay much attention, but that day; he unconsciously picked up all of the garbage and gathered it in the front of the cart. He saw the trashcan and threw it in. He told me that as he was pushing the cart into the market, he saw a middle-aged person saw what he did. He did the same thing. The man went the extra mile too: he started to pick up trash from the other carts.

Hearing about this scene, I am enlightened. Your thoughts can change other people’s thoughts. Because we change, our environment also changes. Suddenly, I realized it’s not hard to make the world different to be better. We just need to have the right kind of mindset. As long as our thoughts are positive, kind, and caring, this becomes a sort of invisible energy spread rapidly outwards from person to person. The impact of spreading of this energy on our environment is far beyond our imagination.

I often heard stories about paying it forward. In the toll road, someone would pay for the ticket of the person behind him or her in line. That person would pay it forward, then the next person and the next. It starts off as nothing. But it became a chain transaction because of one simple thought. It began with one individual being kind and made many people’s days. Isn’t that how we can make someone’s day?

Indeed, a kind and loving thought may not solve any major world crisis. Nevertheless, I believe the loving thought is contagious. As Dr. David Hamilton mentioned in his book “The Contagious Power of Thinking We don’t need to be on the Internet to be connected. We are all interconnected. Our thought and emotion can be felt by the friends, siblings and the other side of people; they can reproduce in them. Yes, it is that powerful. The simple thought certainly will make our world different and more beautiful.

Orchids, Confucius and Darwin

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Orchids’ first association with humanity was said to be made by Confucius, as he said in Confucius’ Family Dialogue:  “The orchids let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it. Likewise, men of noble character will not let poverty deter their will guided by high principles and morals.”(In Chinese“芝蘭生於森林, 不為無人而不芳, 君子修道立德, 不為窮困而改節.”)

On several occasions, Confucius expressed his deep love of orchids. He even called these magnificent plants the “King of Fragrance”. He, also along with many Chinese scholars, wrote numerous poems about orchids. The elegant appearance, the fragrance and the character of the orchids attract people to admire them and stand in awe of how they appear in this world.

Every year, at the beginning of March, there is an international orchid show in Santa Barbara. As I was told, it is the biggest one in the state.  I was overwhelmed by the displays when I paid a visit to the orchid show there the first time many years ago. There were thousands of beautiful orchids there for the people to enjoy. I love orchids so much that I try to go every year. On my blog, I have also written a few articles about orchids. Here are the links to  these articles:

Wisdom of Orchids(Part 1)

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As you can see, I wrote about the wisdom of orchids. A third of orchids use a deceptive method to become pollinated. They are truly the most fascinating plants in this world. While I was thinking about this, I was reminded of the story about orchids and Charles Darwin.

flowers of the orchid A. sesquipedale

The beautiful flowers of the orchid A. sesquipedale with the long, green nectaries hanging behind them. Photograph: Ardetti et al, 2012

According to Dr. Dave Hone in an article published by the Guardian, around 150 years ago, Charles Darwin was sent a box of orchids with the exceptionally long nectaries and hypothesized that there must be some insect with a very, very, very long tongue that could pollinate it. After all, if such an insect did not exist to pollinate the flower, how could it have survived all these years? However, no such insect was found until 1907, when a subspecies of an African Congo moth was found with an exceptionally long tongue span in Madagascar, where the orchids grew freely. In 1997, it was finally confirmed that the moth pollinated the orchid, as a scientist taped this interaction. Orchids are truly amazing, having coevolved with this moth to survive in our world.

Darwin's moth and its absurdly long proboscis

Darwin’s moth and its absurdly long proboscis. Photograph: Dave Hone

Please enjoy the pictures below of the 71st Santa Barbara International Orchid show!

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References:

http://www.asiasentinel.com/alice-poon/culture/the-orchid-and-confucius/

https://www.theguardian.com/science/lost-worlds/2013/oct/02/moth-tongues-orchids-darwin-evolution

Happy New Year-Find Your Adventure

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This is the 127th Rose Parade. I hadn’t been to the parade for a few years, but I was very moved to attend this year. Many people enjoyed the Disneyland float, which was the largest at 150 feet. The first part was based on the animated movie Frozen, the second part was a depiction of Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom Castle, and the third part was a Star Wars float.
Stormtroopers with the Disneyland Resort float during the Rose Parade on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, Jan. 1, 2016. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda/ Pasadena Star-News)

The parade was led by a police squad, flag-bearers, equestrians and a marching band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were very colorful parade floats. Out of 44 floats, 24 received awards. They were all very beautiful and they must have spent tons of money on the application, the float designing, and the float materials.

   

The first float pictured was a very popular one, of course, as it was the Lakers float. The city of Los Angeles decorated their float with a bright sun and bright flowers. Then, all of a sudden, the sky had some words: “Donald Trump is disgusting.”

At the end of the parade, a float showed us the theme of this year’s parade: “Find Your Adventure.”

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” –Oprah Winfrey

Indeed, life is full of adventure. This is the year that I wish all of us will be able to get out of our boxes and explore different adventures. In this year’s Rose Parade, there were various performers on tall stilts waving to the crowd. It seemed like they were showing us that you need to be brave to become high, but you will be able to broaden your perspective. To have that will and determination to work toward your dream is an adventure itself. I hope by the end of this year, before the theme is once again changed, we will fulfill our dreams.

I think that this is a good start for New Years resolutions, and good luck to us all.

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