Excerpts from Chin Shengt’an’s 32 Happy Moments:
1. A friend, one I have not seen for ten years, suddenly arrives at sunset. I open the door to receive him, and without asking whether he came by boat or by land, and without bidding him to sit down on the bed or couch, I go to the inner chamber and humbly ask my wife: “Have you got a gallon of wine like Su Tungpo’s wife?” My wife gladly takes out her gold hairpin to sell it. I calculate it will last us three days. Ah, is this not happiness?
2. I have nothing to do after a meal and try to go through the things in some old trunks. I see there are dozens or hundreds of I.O.U.’s from people who owe my family money. Some of them are dead and some still living, but in any case there is no hope of their returning the money. Behind people’s back I put them together in a pile and make a bonfire of them, and I look up to the sky and see the last trace of smoke disappear. Ah, is this not happiness?
3. I wake up in the morning and seem to hear someone in the house sighing and saying that last night some one died. I immediately ask to find out who it is, and learn that it is the sharpest, most calculating fellow in town. Ah, is this not happiness?
4. At night I seem to hear someone thinking of me in the distance. The next day I go to call on him. I enter his door and look about his room and see that this person is sitting at his desk, facing south, reading a document. He sees me, nods quietly and pulls me by the sleeve to make me sit down, saying “Since you are here, come and look at this.” And we laugh and enjoy ourselves until the shadows on the walls have disappeared. He is feeling hungry himself and slowly asks me “Are you hungry, too?” Ah, is this not happiness?
5. To cut with a sharp knife a bright green watermelon on a big scarlet plate of a summer afternoon. Ah, is this not happiness?
6. To find accidentally a handwritten letter of some old friend in a trunk. Ah, is this not happiness?
7. To see someone’s kite line broken. Ah, is this not happiness?