A Letter From the Past

Zhang Sanjian is back 2022-08-12 09:00 Posted on Beijing


Dear Xiao Zhe,

Greetings to you as I unfold this letter.

I wonder if you’ll have a new nickname in ten years, but for now, I’ll address you this way.

I graduated successfully this year, and the moment I showed my diploma and bachelor’s degree to Mom, I felt her joy. This was not only a recognition of my academic achievement but also an affirmation of her diligent nurturing. After all, she put in more effort than I did to get me into the Shanghai Theatre Academy.

After graduation, all my classmates scattered in different directions to start their new lives. To be honest, I am feeling a bit lost and confused right now. I am eager to prove myself passionately, but the uncertainty of the future makes me hesitant. However, I know that to justify my four years of university study, I must become an excellent actor and cannot give up my passion for music.

At a time when I was uncertain about what to choose, I did something I will never forget for the rest of my life – cycling along National Highway 318, from Chengdu to Lhasa. Perhaps contemplating the path of life on such a heavenly road is a good idea.

A book inspired my cycling journey, and several phone calls helped me find companions to join me. I believe this journey will strengthen our friendship, but I didn’t expect a little episode along the way that would be a ‘test’ of my conviction and our friendship.

When cycling to Litang and planning to head to Batang, we encountered a landslide. So my companion, Xiao Yu, and I had to rest in Litang. Although one of our friends had turned back at Ya’an, we met another cyclist (whose name I can’t recall) who joined us for a couple of stations. We got along well and stayed together along the way.

The landslide was severe, and after waiting for two days without any news of the road reopening, and with light rain accompanying us, Xiao Yu came to me on the third day: “Zhe, why don’t we change our route and stop cycling? We could take a bus to Lanzhou and Xi’an for a trip. Our friend from Shanxi can show us around.” I was angry when I heard this, “Our destination is Lhasa, not Lanzhou or Xi’an! If you want to go, go by yourself.”

On the fourth day, the sun finally came out, and the weather forecast predicted only light rain in the evening. I knocked on Xiao Yu’s door in the morning and simply said, “Are you coming or not? If not, I’m leaving.”

I set off wearing my newly purchased shoe covers, and Xiao Yu, without much hesitation, followed me. This led to the subsequent stories of signing a life-and-death statement and helping fellow riders push their bikes through mudflats.

What I want to tell you is, no matter what setbacks and challenges you face in the future, you must stay true to your beliefs. If you waver or give up halfway, how can you be worthy of those companions who walked the path with you? They joined the journey because of you.

Although the companion who joined us midway eventually went his separate way, I wish him safe travels and all the best. The connections between people are quite miraculous, “There is a time for meeting and parting, nothing lasts forever.” Cherish the good memories when together, and wish each other well when parting, as we all have our own paths to follow.

I’ve rambled on quite a bit, but all I really want to say is that I know you can do it. After all, haven’t I worked hard so that the future you can have it a bit easier? Haha, don’t you think you should thank me?

Xiao Zhe, bask in the sunshine when it’s sunny, and don’t forget to share your umbrella with others when it rains. Remember, you are meant to be a man who conquers the sea!


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