Today, I took a walk down to the shores of Elliot Bay, which was about 7 minutes walking from my apartment. I walked quite a ways up the shore, then turned back. Halfway back, I sat down on a bench and just relaxed a moment, taking in the sunset, the silvery water, and the gentle splashing of the waves.

Elliot Bay in Seattle, setting sun casting a glow over the waters, with a ship in the background

Then, I decided I’d try to compose a Chinese poem for it. Yikes. I’m not that good at English and any art in general, let alone Chinese, but hey I felt compelled to. So here it is, on my blog instead of Instagram because I’m slightly too embarrassed to show it there:

夕陽灣水照

海浪輕輕漂

意記美景時

景已剩多少?

Translated:

The setting sun illuminates the bay’s water

The waves drift lightly

When one wants to record/remember this beautiful scene

How much of that scene is left?

Let me say outright that I don’t like it too much, the last line is way too prosaic and awkward and I’m pretty sure I’ve used some words awkwardly where other words would fit better. Also, I have no idea how rhyming in Chinese poetry works, so I just used AABA (works in both Cantonese and Mandarin!)

But one thing I’ve learned is to stop chasing perfection. It’s better to finish crappy projects and gradually improve than to never do anything just because you’re scared of it not being great. I’ve been down that path too many times and it makes you feel terrible.

Anyways, the idea is that people never appreciate the beauty in their lives until it’s too late, then they frantically try to document, record, or otherwise remember it, but by the time they’re done, the very thing they’re trying to preserve has gone. This applies to experiences like live music concerts, to friendships and family relationships. Try to truly be present in those beautiful moments. I tried to capture some of the same feelings as Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, but not sure how successful I was.

It’s slightly ironic, because I spent so long trying to write the poem that by the time I got up from the bench, the sun had already started to set and the water was dark and no longer glittering with sunlight. Rather than sitting there and enjoying it, I got caught up trying to capture it in a (meh-quality) poem, lol.

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