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PREFACE TO THE ORCHID PAVILION COLLECTION (EXCERPT)
by Wang Xizhi (303 - 361, Eastern Jin Dynasty)
English translation: Miao Guang

We gaze upon the formidable universe and overlook an immensely diverse earth. Thus, we are able to broaden our views, and expand our horizons, which suffices to be a luxury that pleases the eyes and ears. In associating with others throughout life, some gather under a roof to share their ambitions, while some, overwhelmed by emotion, enter a trance of freedom from the restrictions of reality. Though in─between them lie a range of varied interests, differing in temperaments of serenity and excitability, the moment they take pleasure in what they encounter, satisfied and content, they remain unaware of approaching old age. When they become fed up with their preoccupations, emotions change along with that of the world, and remorse takes the place of contentment. That which had satisfied them, in the blink of an eye, has become that of the past, and all that is left is but a choice to not lament over it. Moreover, though the human lifespan changes according to one’s acts, eventually, all must die. Just as those in the past had once said, “life and death are also important moments.” Does not this cause even greater sorrow!

── from Jin Shu-Wang Xizhi Zhuan (Book of Jin: A Biography of Wang Xizhi)