Nothing came into being at my birth, nothing will cease to be when I die… I can face all that may come with laughing equanimity, never sure that a change for the so-called worse (including death) will not turn out to be a change for the so-called better. If it does not turn out that way, that’s fine too, for a realized Taoist is too wise to take opposites such as better or worse at all seriously.
I am soon to become an emperor-ha-ha-ha-ha! I am destined to be a lousy beggar – ha-ha-ha-ha! It’s all a game. Any part will suit me fine. You are going to give me a thirty-two course (plus side dishes) Chinese banquet? Thanks, I’ll enjoy that. We have only a bowl or two of inferior-quality boiled rice for dinner? That will go down very nicely. We have nothing on which to dine? Splendid, we shall have more time to sit outside and enjoy the moonlight, with music provided by the wind in the pines.
…Youth passes – so does spring. Old age comes – so do winter’s lovely snowscapes and the kettles bubbling over glowing charcoal. I’m bursting with energy, so I’ll jog or climb Mount Hua. I’m too ill to move, so I’ll enjoy my warm bed and meditate. My wife loves me; “O what joys behind hibiscus curtainsl” My wife has left me; how peaceful it is now. Old Wang has a delicious concubine. I have a charming blue-eyed cat. Reagan is delighted with his new aeroplane. I have fun with my old bamboo raft. I find that I can sleep in only one bedroom at a time and that my old wadded gown sits lighter than fur. While you sit watching pictures on your color TV set, I stand gazing at ripples in a moonlit pond, thanking the gods for not interrupting with commercials. You are a funny creature; so am I- ha-ha! Who isn’t?
Introduction to The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain