My Life in Proverbs
Proverbs and idioms, like in English, are expressions that offer a piece of truth about life. It is from the lessons of those before us that these wise and reasonable words came into being. Many idioms originated from ancient times, when people lived simply and sustainably without modern distractions. I believe it is because they lived simply and sustainably that people were able to explain the hardships, the consequences, and the truths behind living. Each idiom has a complete story behind it that I am determined to learn (there are a bajillion), because even though I consider myself pretty fluent (oxymoron?) in Chinese, I will never fully assimilate with my people if I don’t understand the expressions that are culturally significant to them.
It is fascinating to me that these ancient sayings have lasted through present day and are still incredibly accurate in describing the way of life or the way life should be. However, while they are used in daily conversation, whether people still live by these proverbs and idioms is another story.
The selection I have picked out below are just a few that I identify with. As I continue living in China–and as I continue learning about life– this list will get progressively longer, I’m sure.
Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.
I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.
Jade must be chiseled before it can be considered a gem.
Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles.
Thirty years the east bank, thirty years the west bank.
Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know what’s in a person’s heart.