Today, for the first time in a long time, I watched something with someone I hadn’t watched anything with before. The “something” was 贾宝玉 aka Awakening, a stage re-framing of 红楼梦 in which 贾宝玉 returns to re-live his travails in a modern-day 贾 household. It was entertaining and innovative in parts (especially the portions re-telling the key plot points in 红楼梦, which was useful for folks who haven’t read the Chinese classic e.g. me), but ultimately I found that it was uneven, with melodrama competing with near-evangelising of Buddhist concepts such as the cycle of secular suffering.
Still, I was moved by the sort-of twist near the end, when 贾宝玉 finds that his bride is 林黛玉 in this reality (in the original story, 林黛玉 was 贾宝玉’s true love, but, believing that 贾宝玉 and 薛宝钗 were the perfect match instead, 贾宝玉’s family tricks him into marrying her by switching brides, meaning the bride he eventually wed was 薛宝钗), which was well-resolved. (It was in fact so good that I would not be surprised that the play crystallised with this gem at its core.)
One line in particular in the play stayed with me: “We come into this world alone and we leave this world alone.” (That’s paraphrased/translated from Chinese.) To live with a real appreciation of this is to live in a non-secular world. Sometimes I find myself veering into this territory, not caring to care, though more from a laziness of the heart than from an understanding that caring is suffering, and a while ago I tried to put this uncaring into words, and I realised that I do not want to be dependent on one person for an overly significant part of my happiness.
The other thing that stuck with me is a song from the play – you can view the music video here. (I wonder what the song would be like sung by someone with greater range than 何韵诗.)