Jin Shengtan was a 17th-century Chinese scholar and writer who once found himself stranded with a friend in a temple for 10 days because of a rainstorm. While thus secluded, the pair compiled a list of 33 of the truly happy moments in life. The resulting book was called Chin’s 33 Happy Moments. The wonderful thing about his moments is their lack of piety. Happiness is seen not as a constant state, but as an occasional surprise.
Here is Chin’s 22nd happy moment:
I am sitting in a small boat. There is a beautiful wind in our favour, but our boat has no sails. Suddenly there appears a big lorcha (tropical fish), coming along as fast as the wind. I try to hook on to the lorcha in the hope of catching on to it, and unexpectedly the hook does catch. Then I throw over a rope and we are towed along and I begin to sing the lines of Tu Fu: “The green makes me feel tender towards the peaks, and the red tells me there are oranges.” And we break out in joyous laughter. Ah, is this not happiness?