“Between the Black and the White” explores different moods and feelings in daily life. It is organized into different keys that set the tone for each specific piece. It tries to capture the microscopic stories of life and zoom in to examine every detail.
A white car slows at my door. I watch as he hops down from the car and gently opens the car door for me, handing me a bunch of black roses. “Happy Lantern Festival,” he softly sings.
A sense of anxious happiness envelops me as I climb into the front seat. Sitting beside him, I glance outside the window. It is foggy yet the colors are bright, bright enough for me to be fully absorbed in the bountifulness of nature: the weird-shaped trees, the gigantic cows on the farmlands, the endless horizons of the bay. Finally I lose focus as all the colors enclose into dots of shaded red, yellow and blue, merging and overlapping to form a beam of white void light, wrapped up in the hazy, vapory sight.
Curtains of raindrops swirl on the car’s windshield. The windscreen wiper mechanically cuts out the rain streams that rushes downwards, meandering and trickling — a constant rat-race between a clear-murky vision. The Monetian farmland alongside the highway magnificently displays the conversation between light and shadow as though they are the essential subjects of the picture. He is drag racing the car, striving to throw behind every tree, bridge and lamppost in our sight, endeavoring to get closer to every droplet only to accelerate, pass and lose it.
A sharp slam on the brakes, 80 to zero miles per hour. My body jerks forward, almost hitting the front of the car. Shocked, I turn and look at him.
“Sorry. Hate this weather. Can’t see.” He points out.
“It’s okay.” I answer half-heartedly, looking out the window and at the misty foil of mother nature. I wonder how many things are disguised by this silvery gray with marks of ages.
Is it okay? Is it really? Does clarity of sight matter that much when you can feel the rhythm of every raindrop articulating Debussy’s prelude, the sound of the adjacent vehicles, the vibration of the heartbeats… It tickles me with a creeping burst of excitement, the antique kind of feeling that poured over me as a kid each time I was about to open a New Year’s present. I realize how much I enjoy blurriness. I enjoy randomness, uncertainty, arbitrariness, ambiguity. Why are we as human beings so hasty to define, classify and conclude when the world is supposed to arouse, splash and feel…
Finally we arrive at the Buddhist temple. He clumsily holds up the transparent umbrella, rain droplets dancing upon it. I grip his hand and help him to adjust its position. I have always believed that holding the umbrella is an art; it is a constant battle against the stormy winds and needle-like raindrops that requires delicate control. In fact, any kind of protection requires that. Shall I put my trust in a rusty umbrella?
I hold his left arm as we carefully step into the temple. The smell of good fortune chokes me; petrichor blends intricately with the burning incense. Smoke, mist, fog, dust. “And to dust you shall return.”
Curious raindrops explore the lenses of my eyeglasses, magnifying the blurriness of looking ahead. All I can see are twisted images: a carefully layered wooden roof, a bundle of grotesque rhododendron trees, a solid rocky stairway, a curve of lanterns sparingly dangled on a white string. Clouds are squeezed and stretched into indecipherable shapes like the debris of a bomb being dropped on the centers, becoming ever more imposing and threatening. Everything is distorted and yet more authentic as I feel every tip of my cell itching, waiting. All evolves into a brisk breeze of breath.
From a table on the right side, we pick up three sticks of yellowish-white incense. I shakily hold my three feather-light incense sticks and light them. Solemnly and slowly, we walk towards the middle of the square temple and kneel. The Buddha is as colossal as ever, penetrating me with her insightful eyes.
I close my eyes. A thousand thoughts rush through my mind. “Time is the longest distance between two places.” “Perhaps between two hearts.” What may I wish for? The incense starts dipping, ashes begin falling down. What would he wish for? Love gusts up within me as I slowly open my eyes to glance at him and instantly close them again.
White turns into black, as the carbon pervades the white incense. I reflect on that subtle light in the corner of his eyes. It is too fierce for me to comprehend; too bright that it dazzles and hurts. Or maybe it is simply that I do not wish to comprehend its scattering colors. Why do colors matter if they all eventually turn into a single beam of void whiteness, only to bleach the blood streaks in the eyes?
As we walk out of the temple, the F minor chord of the temple’s bell strikes in my head. Sunlight leaks from the blue sky, glowing, heating and burning. Flowers glow, blossom, wither into the dust.
I don’t want anything that is not mine, Buddha.