Tag Archives: Wu Gang

Gazing at the moon

8 Aug

Moon pathIt began with a text message and a challenge.  My husband wanted to know if I could read the “junk text” that the phone company had just sent him.

The characters were basic and I slowly puzzled it out.  “Can we ever see the dark side of the moon? Reply 1 for “Yes” and 2 for “No.””

My husband beamed – I had read the text, then he said, “Of course we can’t see the dark side of the moon. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see the old man chopping down trees every night.”

I looked at him blankly.  This required further explanation.

He then told me some of the legends of Wu Gang, the man in the moon.

In the first legend Wu Gang offended the gods who then sent him to the moon to chop down trees as punishment.  Every night he almost finishes and every day the trees grow back.  He is continuously trying to finish his sentence but has been chopping down the same trees now for thousands of years.

In another legend Wu Gang is actually a god himself and he was dating the goddess of the moon Chang E.  Unfortunately the two of them got into an argument with the head God who sent Wu Gang to the moon to chop down the trees and keep him from his true love.  Each time he was nearly done a raven was sent to distract him- first by snagging his clothing, then with a loud noise, then with other ways.  In the moment he was distracted the trees grew again.

Legend has it that each year on the 16th of the Eighth lunar month a single leaf will fall to earth from the tree on the moon.  He or she who finds it will be blessed with treasures.

I have never heard these stories, they belong to a culture that I am just figuring out, but one may argue that I have found my treasure already.

This post is in honor of my husband.  It was five years ago today that he came back to Shanghai to start a new career after living in the UK.  It also is the day that the 2008 Olympics began in Beijing.  Eight is an auspicious number – it brings good luck and good fortune.  I don’t necessarily believe in the superstition, but if he hadn’t made that move we never would have met, so perhaps 8 is a lucky number for me as well?

What stories have you learned from your partner or friends that change your view of how the world should be?  Is it the man in the moon or the best cure for a cold or what children should or shouldn’t do?

These local customs are the things you never find out unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time.  Or, you get a strange text message.

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