Dear young artists, mentors and friends,
I am very glad to be here and join you for today’s wonderful program. The whole event reminds me of an article I read a few days ago. “Why meaningfulness matters more than happiness” In that article, the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor Frankl who survived holocaust concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning, an insight he came to early in life.
In this world, being an artist is not easy. Many of us have struggled with financial challenge, still we persist pursuing our artistic creation. Why, because through our creation and arts, we find meaningfulness. And that matters. That matters more than money. That matters more than happiness. And that will make a difference for our city as well. A city without arts is a city without soul. We artists are those people who search for meaningfulness, the meaningfulness eventually transforms us. We become more givers, bearing further responsibilities and sharing bigger visions. Today I am glad to see many of you came out to share, to give. I am also glad to see our young artists who have come out to learn and to show their talents. That makes us whole, that completes us. Many people say artists are lonely creatures. Yes. Sometimes we are. But here I am glad that we are not. Here we grow together.
Tonight I will read two poems from my new book “Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac”. This book is about searching for meaning.
I lost my sister last year from cancer. It made me think of life and death. Here I will read a poem titled: Death.
What is it like?
No one takes a close look.
When you were nine,
a road accident, a pool of blood.
You followed adults into a room…
all strangers, you touched the victim’s foot,
wondering if it was the same coldness
as your grandma, who died in her sleep.
Nobody noticed you
or asked why you were there.
A curious kid, you were too young
to know the meaning of death
and to see the inaccessible walls of darkness.
Grown up, you dreamed of the dead
who appeared without faces…
What is death like? You wanted to ask,
but they just faded away.
Years later you started writing poetry —
the living ones come and go
all wearing veils,
visible or invisible.
Your pen is the skipping stones
falling into their rivers,
what life is like.