The next day, the weather was exceptionally good. I opened the farmhouse early, cleaned the tables, and laid out the chairs. Some farmers in the village stopped by with their vegetables, so I picked out the ones I wanted, paid, and then piled them in the kitchen.
I had been prepared for the sandpit boss to smash my shop overnight, so I installed a surveillance system in advance, but it didn’t happen. It seemed as if the sandpit boss was more afraid of what happened last night than he was of our previous encounter at the house.
Up to this point, my real growth lay in not being afraid of death, but most living people were afraid of corpses.
When Fatty and Poker-Face arrived later, Fatty asked me how things were. I shook my head and said, “Everything’s fine for the time being.”
The sandpit boss led a relatively prosperous life. Ordinary people experienced all kinds of problems throughout their lifetime, but the sandpit boss got rich very early and wasn’t too ambitious, so he had few problems and a lot of time. Ordinary people who fought with him after being harassed would find that he was much more resilient than they expected. That was why it was easier to think that they’d be better off avoiding unnecessary trouble.
But this kind of good life was also his shortcoming. When it came to a real battle, was he willing to give up everything he had just to mess with me? When he carefully thought about it later that night, he’d probably realize that it really wasn’t all that fun.
And we were three people, three people and a dragon (1). The three of us had absolute trust in each other and could cooperate regardless of who was there. In essence, the sandpit boss wasn’t worthy of harassing us.
Since there usually weren’t any customers in the morning, the three of us sat down to bask in the sun while we waited for some to show up. As expected, we got an express delivery before we had a single customer. I took the package and saw that it was from the young girl we had saved.
“Why is it endless?” Fatty asked. “Don’t tell me she wants to work here. Please don’t. Kids are too noisy.”
I opened the package and found that it contained a book and a letter.
The letter said:
Two respectable uncles and handsome brother,
Hello and thank you again for saving me.
I haven’t known you for long, but I think you all have quite a few stories to tell. Although you do ordinary work, I think you have extraordinary hearts.
In the short time we got acquainted with each other, I found a problem. I’m still young, so maybe it’s just a childish and naïve guess, but don’t be offended if what I say is completely off the mark.
I think you’re working hard to build a life, but it doesn’t seem like you’re really living.
I think if I were to live in a beautiful place, I should spend at least half of my daily life doing things that are ineffective. But opening a farmhouse is such a specific “thing”. It’s almost too specific, in fact.
Life is in the details. For example, make a bottle of jam and eat it the next day. Or buy paint to decorate a wall. You can even paint some pictures from your memory on the wall. Do it without a plan, a set quantity, or even a completion time. There should only be one thing on your mind: I feel very happy doing this.
You can only really enjoy life if there’s no fear of the future. Otherwise, you’re just trying hard to live your life. This is just my humble opinion.
I bought a book for you. It contains all kinds of cute desserts. It’s just a little something to show my gratitude but I hope you like it.
—Bamboo Forest’s Trapped Jiaolong (2)
I figured Jiaolong was a screen name. I handed the letter to Fatty, who scoffed when he read it, “Two uncles and a brother. Now the little girl is just being shallow.”
I opened the book she had sent us and found that some of the words she had written were actually from the cover page. Isn’t the whole point of living to do something and make sure it happens? I’ve never really thought about what life is all about, I thought to myself. From the beginning, I was always thinking about who I was and what I could achieve in this life because I knew that I couldn’t go through it in a muddle-headed state. But later, it was all about truth, truth, truth, result, result, result, trap, trap, trap, and choice, choice, choice.
But I couldn’t imagine another life where it wasn’t like this. Would it be right? What would it even look like?
Sadly, my mind just now was preoccupied with how the sandpit boss looked like on the bamboo. I still had some doubts on why he did this, because I didn’t think he seemed surprised when he was listening to my story. It appeared that my reasoning was wrong somewhere, plus, there was that strange story we had dug up before. But I felt like the bone story was more of a metaphorical thing.
But then again, I wouldn’t ignore my gut feeling either. I never felt like my thinking was wrong, because my past habits and experiences had already become an inseparable part of me. Letting go was an attitude, not a task to be done.
Then there was the fear of the future.
I looked at the sky. The weather was beginning to warm up, the cold had come and gone, and time continued to flow onward. Now I felt that one year wasn’t as long as the previous six months. I hadn’t become entangled in anything for a long time, but was I really not afraid?
I closed the book and went for a walk in the field behind the farmhouse. I remembered that there were a lot of “cold berries” here, which were called sour bubbles in the local dialect. They were really just a kind of wild fruit similar to raspberries. I picked some, brought them back, looked up how to make jam in my new book, and made a bottle of jam.
I ended up picking a lot, suffering numerous injuries from the many thorny plants that grew around the sour bubbles. But even though I had picked so much, there was only enough to make one bottle. When evening came, the three of us looked at this bottle of jam.
“So this is life?” Fatty looked at me and I nodded.
He took out some beer from behind the counter while I pulled the roast chicken out of the stove. We then took out a plate of roasted chestnuts, unscrewed the bottle of jam, and began to eat.
There was rustling in the bamboo forest and the moon was hanging overhead. We could take a bath later and let time continue to pass us by.
The young girl had actually been right, but there was another way to describe life—it was the time and space you created with the people around you.
I had to thank her as well. I read through the book and put it next to my architecture books.
Details…I also wanted them.
<Chapter 19><Table of Contents><Chapter 21>
(1) It’s a Chinese idiom. Kind of like “two peas in a pod”. It’s basically saying they’re super close to each other.
(2) Jiaolong (娇龙) can mean something along the lines of “Adorable Dragon”
3 thoughts on “Chapter 20 Different Meanings of Life”
“So this is life?”
I don’t know, man. I don’t know
“truth, truth, truth, result, result, result, trap, trap, trap, and choice, choice, choice”
I love how the author summed up the entire DMBJ universe and everything that’s happened in the past 20 books in four words.
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This is ending is so wholesome.