Mist and snow blot out the world.
Bony trees are thinly fleshed with ice.
A couple laughs below a stone monument,
But behind a bristled hedge,
A cloaked woman sings a dirge.
Old age is lonely.
Dreams of those I’ve buried haunt me.
Was I ever ready to shoulder this mantle?
It smothered a carefree youth.
Now neither parent, lover, nor friends have I,
And great fame is as distant as spring’s leaves.
Dear youth, do you ever think of getting old? If you did, then you might value your time even more. Dear oldster, do you ever think of your past? Of course you do. You wonder if you did the right things.
How ironic this life is! What a tremendous bind we are born into! When young, we do not understand the dreariness of old age. When we are old, we are not permitted to go back in time. When vitality flows freely, we haven’t enough wisdom. When we have gained wisdom, fate has made us too weak to take action.
Oh, I know. The purpose of following Tao is to be well adjusted. The secret of Tao is to know how to pass into old age gracefully. Yes, I know. But may I not still reflect on the poignancy of it all?
To be fully human is to know resignation.