Only when it comes to a day of winter, we solidly meet the concept of "years". One year divides winter into half, and with this division, we feel how our years go by so fast at the end of each year. But after new year, as we welcome another tempting three-hundreds-and-sixty-five days, we suddenly gain so many days that we feel that we are rich of time, and we can accomplish much more.
Years are measured in time. But what is time measured in? Where is time. Is it in a clock? Or on a calendar? Or is it walking in the sunshine in front of my window?
Windows are the most adorable mirror frames of the house. Shiny, transparent, and reflective. Four different seasons change the views in that mirror frame. In these winter days, the warm air in the house works with the sunshine outside to melt the ice and snow on the frozen windows: they always melt from the middle and spread toward different directions on the glass. Through those fantastic and even dreamy icy holes, I found that the world in winter is the brightest. Much brighter than the cool nights in autumn, and brighter than the splendid days in spring and summer. They are like a person’s young years: although they shine, they are always being shaded by shadows, verdant but dark. A forest never has such brightness. Nor does the ocean. They are too deep to be fully comprehended by us, and they are too old to shine to impress. They have found a way to truly make themselves happy.
All of a sudden I grew respect to the concept of “old people”, or just everything old. Only after they went through their lives, after they took off the leaves of their splendid years, and after they saw through the color of seemingly tempting light blue in the small river, they are bright and clear as the winter days are outside the window. You never see a forest show off her immense green to the sky, and you never see the sea flatter herself with sounds of ringing water. But they are shiny in their own ways. Because only such brightness and clearness can being them boundless tranquility. Peace in calmness is all they want and need. But tranquility is not death, but it is a rich and great self-joyness. Only after you find how to make yourself enjoy everyday in life, you gain the true happiness.
My father bought a plant - I can't remember its name - and put it on my ledge one day. The plant was in green, dark green, and had very large leaves. Those leaves were like hands, reaching out for appreciation and praises. Against the light, their veins stretched in free and leisurely lines. A strange feeling appeared. The coldness conquered the outside world, but a rich spring is pleased with itself in my room.
Since I had this plant, I found my room to be brightened by the sunshine I never noticed before. The light came in and filled every leaf and every vein, turning them pure, bright, and sacred like green jade stones. I saw green liquid running in those small transparent leaves that just grew out. This liquid was blood. It's the plants' blood. Human blood is red, and plants’ blood is green - the blood of hearts is transparent because the purity of world comes from the clearness of hearts. But why, when we all say that we are pure, this world is still chaotic?
I also found that those bright leaves shined not to prove their existence, but to prove the glamour, beauty, and magic of sunshine. Everything proves the existence of another. Great men reveal that awful ones are everywhere; lovers that are separated by great distance show us their close hearts; don’t the bad languages from others prove your unattainability and dignity? The liers cannot trick you to get your purity or wisdom. The life of an old man becomes shorter and shorter, but can his way become longer? Is the measurement of lices their longitudes, or their width and depth?
In winter, the orbit the sun takes around the earth is low and more diagonal. In summer, the feet of sunshine can only stand on my ledge, but now they broke in and shined on the northern wall straightly. A wooden sculpture of the Buddha that was standing still in shadow wistful and lost in thought now smiled quietly against the wisp of light.
The sunshine was determined to fill my world that winter. It turned into shiny fog and dyed toward the bleaking areas around it. The shadows, however, were naughty and persistent: no matter where the sunshine went, they went to hide behind the light. Darker a place is, the more clear to see those dusts floating around in the air, lightened up by the sunshine. That confused me more: where is the division between dark and light? Where is the division between night and dawn? Is it the first crow of the bird in the morning? And that crow was extremely loud because it was moistened by morning dews.
However, there was one light that could go into the dark and those closed corners, and that was the music from the piano of my father's. He is not the master of music but he loves it, he enjoys it, and he purifies it with his own heart. Nobody ever wants to interrupt him when he plays - even the sunshine stops chasing the darkness and lands on his shoulders and hands. I sometimes dance with bare feet on the floor while he plays the piano with his long fingers - when my mother jokes around, she says that my father has the fingers of a lady’s. He once told me that art comforts. I thought it was nonsense and hypocritical as I once believed that art actually deceives us and leads us to an illusional world. But now I understand him, and we agree that art originally comforts our lives - it's just that some lives have betrayed it and made it dirty. My father tries the most sensitive savvy with his hands. His notes were different bright colors, like strong and weak wisps of brightness getting all over the space. Those music were like some golden birds, flapping their wings and flying into the shadows, like the shadows in my heart. Sometimes they would turn off the lights in the whole world and create a new glowing bright sun.
My father wrote me a card before I left home to come to America to study, and he said,
“Everything you want is in music and in dance, in family, and in love. Keep listening, keep dancing, keep loving, and you will find your comfort.”
Afterall, the most confusing thing in winter for me is still the sky, even my father's music cannot answer it. Sometimes a storm came, and the last bit of blue of sky among those scary clouds waiting to inundate it looked like a hole in the sky, very deep and very far. But most of time the sky unfolded in immensity above us. It was empty, high, far, clear, and regal. Even the birds would not dare to fly up to it - not only because it’s cold, but also because it’s huge, so huge that as soon as you look up you realize how small you are. During nights there were a few stars shining. They were the inns with lights in the universe. Eons of time, everyone is running from the last inn to the next. For whom? For the eternal love in the universe?
I watched the steps of winter on the ground; I watched how it took its strides and direction to walk all the way to spring.