‘Small Year’ and ‘Big Year’

(adapted from Zhuangzi)

It is said that Peng Zu lived for 800 years and was the longest-living man around.

But there is this little worm called Ephemera which is born at dawn and dead at dusk. It has no idea how long a day is.

And there is this insect called Cicada which is born in spring and dies in summer. It has no idea what the four seasons are.

Yet there lived in the southern sea a huge ‘Ling’ turtle whose lifespan 500 years is but a spring and another 500 years an autumn.

In prehistoric times, there was a tree named ‘Chun’ to which 8000 years was but a spring and another 8000 years an autumn.

The Ephemera and Cicada can be called ‘Small Year’ while the Ling turtle and Chun tree can be called ‘Big Year’. The ‘Small Year’ will never understand the experience of the ‘Big Year’.

*

Our thoughts are limited by the things we know, by the experiences we have.

For how many white swans must we see before we can say they are all white? Yet a single black swan can prove us wrong.

What’s the colour of crows? What’s the colour of shadows? The ‘Small Year’ will never understand the experience of the ‘Big Year’.

And so shall we remain open to the possibility of things we don’t know, with neither blind belief nor blind disbelief.

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