Deng Ming-Dao on Optimism
Clearing blue sky,
A promise in bare branches.
In winter, there are sunny days.
In adulthood, childhood can return.
In winter, all things appear dead or dormant. The rain and snow seem incessant, the nights long. Then one day, the sky clears to a brilliant blue. The air warms. A mist rises from the earth and the perfume of water, clay, and moss drifts through the air. Gardeners are seen preparing new stock, though they are only bare branches and a gray root ball. The people are optimistic: They know that there will be an end to the cold.
In adulthood, we often see responsibilities as something dreadful. Why should we dig the ground when the weather is disagreeable? We see activities only as obligations, and we strain against our fate. But there is a joy to working in harmony with the proper time. When we do things at just the right occasion and those efforts bear fruit later, the gratification is tremendous.
There was an old man who began an orchard upon his retirement. Everyone laughed at him. Why plant trees? They told him that he would never live to see a mature crop. Undaunted, he planted anyway, and he has seen them blossom and has eaten their fruit. We all need that type of optimism. That is the innocence and hope of childhood.