A Lively Per­son­al­ity Beats Looks

Special Focus - - Contents - Mi Meng

Iknow two twin sis­ters who are not very phys­i­cally at­trac­tive. The first sis­ter has been mar­ried to a pho­tog­ra­pher for eight years and he is in­fat­u­ated with her. He of­ten posts pho­tos of his wife on so­cial me­dia. Each pic­ture is full of af­fec­tion.

Con­versely, the sec­ond sis­ter has been divorced twice, ei­ther for do­mes­tic abuse, or her ex-hus­band’s af­fairs. The strangest thing is that even her par­ents think it was her fault and felt deeply for his son­sin-law. Had the sec­ond sis­ter done some­thing ter­ri­ble? No. She is just neg­a­tive about life and a com­plete pes­simist. She is good at find­ing faults in ev­ery­thing and see­ing the re­pul­sive rather than the beauty. She al­ways has some­thing to com­plain about.

I will give two sim­ple ex­am­ples.

The first con­cerns driv­ing. The first sis­ter’s hus­band has no sense of di­rec­tion. Ev­ery time he drives, he is in a com­plete mess. He can­not even re­mem­ber some­where he has passed a mil­lion times and is of­ten forced to make a de­tour. The kind first sis­ter does not seem to mind, say­ing, “Just take your time, I like be­ing in the car.” She then talks hap­pily with the other pas­sen­gers and gos­sips about this and that. If there is no one to talk to, she looks out the win­dow at the trees be­side the road and seems per­fectly happy, telling her hus­band jokes such as, “One guy’s dad is re­ally su­per­sti­tious. He thinks his son is lack­ing in the

1 wood el­e­ment, so he made him

ac­cept a tree as his god­fa­ther.” One day, af­ter her hus­band had taken an ac­ci­den­tal de­tour into the coun­try side, turn­ing a jour­ney that should only have taken less than an hour into a three-hour trip, the sis­ter said hap­pily, “This is the way bet­ter. We get to have an out­ing at the same time. I haven’t seen cows for a long time.”

The sec­ond sis­ter’s ex-hus­band had no sense of di­rec­tion ei­ther, and would make de­tours too, but he would pay for it. The sis­ter would keep crit­i­ciz­ing him from the time they set off till they reached their des­ti­na­tion. She would say things like, “You id­iot, we clearly should have just ex­ited the high­way.” “Are you blind? Did you not see the one-way sign?” “That fool just tried to over­take us. Hurry up and over­take him! Are you a man?” She also did not ap­prove of her hus­band us­ing GPS be­cause she thought it was too noisy. At one point, her hus­band was on the verge of se­vere de­pres­sion.

The sec­ond con­cerns trav­el­ing. The sec­ond sis­ter had just mar­ried her first hus­band and they were still in the hon­ey­moon. They went trav­el­ing in east China with her el­der sis­ter and her sis­ter’s hus­band, just the four of them. Hav­ing fin­ished trav­el­ing around Shang­hai, they were rest­ing at a train sta­tion get­ting ready to go to Hangzhou and the men had gone to buy tick­ets. Back then, there was a train to Hangzhou ev­ery half an hour. They chose the 4 o’clock train, which turned out to be run­ning late, and the later three trains all de­parted be­fore it. All of a sud­den, the sec­ond sis­ter threw a fit and spent the hour-anda-half wait con­stantly crit­i­ciz­ing her hus­band for choos­ing that train. She called him an “id­iot, with wa­ter on the brain who had never got­ten a thing right in his life.” She ba­si­cally said his whole life he had been a waste of oxy­gen and that he should just throw him­self on the tracks and die.

The first sis­ter tried to per­suade the other that it was point­less to com­plain and that she was bet­ter off do­ing a cross­word puz­zle with her hus­band. The two of them had a good time and ex­claimed how the time flew by while they were wait­ing for the train.

They both had to wait for an hour and a half, but for the un­happy sis­ter, sec­onds seemed like a year, whereas for the other sis­ter, the time flew by.

Many peo­ple would ask the happy sis­ter’s hus­band, “In your job you must meet all kinds of beau­ti­ful women, why do you love just your wife?” He would say, “Be­cause only with her do I feel happy all the time.” Once, he went to Paris to do a fash­ion shoot, ac­com­pa­nied by some beau­ti­ful and sexy mod­els. He missed his wife more than any­thing when the mod­els all started com­plain­ing that the Wi-Fi sig­nal in Paris was rub­bish, that the train sta­tions were dirty, that Parisians were in­ef­fi­cient, and that there were lots of liars and thieves about.

Au­thor Eileen Chang once said, “What did Em­peror Xuan­zong (685– 762) of the Tang Dy­nasty love about


Yang Guifei? It was not her beauty, but her lively na­ture.” Not all women can live out their days in fun. The dif­fer­ences be­tween women are not just about their education and tal­ent. Some­times what de­ter­mines fate is just a small dif­fer­ence in the way of think­ing.

(From Mod­ern Women, May 2015. Trans­la­tion: Trans)


1. In Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy, wood, some­times trans­lated as Tree, is the first phase of the Five el­e­ments, a five­fold con­cep­tual scheme that many tra­di­tional Chi­nese fields used to ex­plain a wide ar­ray of phe­nom­ena. Among the Five el­e­ments, Wood ( 木mù), Fire ( 火 huǒ), Earth ( 土 tǔ), Metal ( 金 jīn), and Wa­ter ( 水 shuǐ), wood stands for spring­time, the east, the planet Jupiter, the color green, windy weather, and the Azure Dragon (Qing Long) in Four Sym­bols. 2. Yang Yuhuan, of­ten known as Yang Guifei, lit­er­ally: “Im­pe­rial Con­sort Yang,” (with Guifei be­ing the high­est rank for im­pe­rial con­sorts dur­ing her time), was known as one of the Four Beau­ties of an­cient China. She was the beloved con­sort of Em­peror Xuan­zong of Tang dur­ing his later years.

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