Summer Flowers, Autumn Leaves


Two stories today remind me of these poetic words from Rabindranath Tagore’s Stray Birds:

“What is this unseen flame of darkness whose sparks are the stars?

Let life be beautiful like summer flowers and death like autumn leaves.

He who wants to do good knocks at the gate; he who loves finds the gate open.

In death the many become one; in life the one becomes many…

The artist is the lover of Nature, therefore he is her slave and her master.”


Jake Bailey, 18, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Without treatment, he would only have three weeks to live. The doctors said he would not be able to attend the high school graduation ceremony, yet he defied their orders and gave a speech at the event.

“The future is truly in our hands. Forget about having long-term dreams. Let’s be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Micro-ambitious… Work with pride on what is in front of us. We don’t know where we might end up. Or when it might end up,” he was quoted as saying.

This news is heart-wrenching enough. But I was later faced with a much lesser-known story from China:


Qian Hongyan, from the remote province of Yunnan in Southwestern China, lost her legs at the age of four. Her family was too poor to arrange prosthetic legs, so she learned to walk by holding two wooden blocks in her hands and supporting herself with a basketball. So far she has worn out six basketballs.

She started swimming since 2007 and recently won the championship in a provincial disability sports event. She is also a good student in school.

Thinking of Tagore’s poetry, I really don’t know what to say.


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