Drinking in Ranges, Feasting on Peaks
I meet a liberal-minded literary giant from the past
I walk around at leisure until I come to the train station, and the train is waiting. On board I bump into sculptor Hanison Lau Hok-shing, who is on his way to meet the Song Dynasty literary giant Mr. Su Dongpo. Soon the train arrives in The Year 1082, stopping in front of a mansion. I follow Hanison inside. When we walk past the garden which is a fusion of natural and man-made landscape, we are so captivated by the exquisite and peaceful scenery that we stop to appreciate it for a while. Inside, the living room exudes an air of simple elegance, decorated with antique pieces, relics, calligraphy and paintings.
A young servant approaches us and says, “Mr. Su is waiting for you in his study. Please come with me.”
While we are walking along the corridor, we hear sweet music coming from a Chinese zither, qin. Once we’re inside the study, Mr. Su puts aside his instrument and makes us tea. Inside the ebon cups is light-coloured tea. Its soft fragrance immerses us in a serene mood.
Hanison sips tea and asks, “Since we parted, I’ve been thinking of you, Sir. Now you’re in Huangzhou, are you feeling alright?”
Mr. Su immerses himself in deep thought for a while, and answers slowly, “Those who held sway in the past do not live to today. You may see the river flowing ceaselessly, but it has not passed away. The moon waxes and wanes, but in the end it remains unchanged. Therefore, if something is not destined to be yours, you shouldn’t hanker for it. Only the fresh breeze on the river and the moonlight in the mountain are for you to enjoy with no reservation.”
“Your insight into life is amazing, Sir,” I remark in admiration.
While listening to our conversation, Hanison admires the elegant decorations in the study. Seeing that he is absorbed in the objects, Mr. Su says, “I remember Mr. Lau is interested in these trinkets.”
“Yes, I like literary men’s trinkets because they embody a sense of union of heaven and earth. I also do handicraft, turning natural landscape into decorations for the desk, so we can enjoy natural scenery in a microcosm. I’ve brought some of my works to share with you.” Hanison takes an ingeniously crafted porcelain sculpture from his knapsack, and places it next to Mr. Su’s incense burner in green glaze. This porcelain bowl has red evening clouds after the Jun Kiln style pasted to its inside, and the bowl also has a wooden sculpted lid in the shape of a mountain. It exudes the magnificence and elegance of the Song Dynasty.
“This piece is poetic and inspiring,” says Mr. Su.
“I hope this piece can invoke the literary spirit, as it was inspired by a line of verse,” says Hanison.
“Really? Which line?” asks Mr. Su.
Hanison answers, “ ‘I wish you long life, As we share this loveliness across the thousand miles’,” replies Hanison.
Mr. Su quietly smiles, his eyes gazing in the distance thoughtfully. He has served his country and the people all his life. Though his civil service career suffers setbacks, he stills maintains a liberal mind. Even when he is in demotion, he still serves his people well, and seeks freedom and transcendence of the spirit. His liberal-mindedness is uplifting for me, making this an enjoyable and soothing spiritual journey.