The Swimming Child Story
Qing Wen as Swimmer
Yuru Su as Runner
The below content provides context for "The Swimming Child Story"
The Gate: The Story of Gong Gong and Zhu Rong
Chaos relating to water is nothing new to creation and recreation mythologies, as in the case of the Great Flood of Gun-Yu. One of the earliest and most common Chinese flooding myths begins with two brothers: Zhu Rong, the Fire God, and Gong Gong, the Water God. Ashamed that he lost the fight against Zhu Rong for the throne of Heaven, Gong Gong smashed his head against Buzhou Mountain, one of the eight pillars holding up the sky.
The sky tilted and caused the earth to shift, triggering great floods and years of suffering. Savage beasts and monsters began to devour the people on earth. When the goddess Nü Wa saw this, she severed the feet of Ao, the giant sea-turtle, to replace the fallen pillar and end the seemingly endless pain. However, she was not able to fully restore the tilt to the earth and sky, which is why China’s rivers now run from West to East. The sun, moon, stars, and rivers were forever changed.
Yang, Lihui, et al. Handbook of Chinese Mythology. Oxford University Press, 2008.
Birrell, Anne. “The Four Flood Myth Traditions Of Classical China.” T’Oung Pao, vol. 83, no. 4-5, 1997, pp. 213–259., doi:10.1163/15685322-90000015.
The Waiting Area: Fate and Pre-determined Roles
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet begins by presenting the titular characters’ destinies: “a pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.” Even before their meeting, their lives and tragic deaths are preordained by an abstract entity. Fatalism asserts that humanity lacks the agency to choose its own course of events. Thus your feelings, actions, words, and choices become devoid of will and are deemed inevitable. This doctrine labels us as powerless—mere subordinates of fate rather than bodies with autonomy.
So if our deaths are fated, do we not call a doctor when we are ill? If our friends are destined, do we stand idly as they come and go? An inherent flaw in the fatalistic philosophy is that it quickly succumbs to the despondency of nihilism. When we believe that we no longer have the free will to choose our roles in life, we begin to believe that life has no meaning; nothing can be done, nothing can be changed, and nothing we do makes a difference. We stop opposing injustice, war, and tyranny because we bind an inevitability to them. But, when you woke up this morning despite your instinct to stay in bed, you chose to take ownership of your life. You chose to determine your own role. In what ways can you choose to disregard the cards dealt to you? In what ways can you choose to defy fate?
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