Jin Shengtan was a 17th century Chinese writer who once found himself stranded with a friend in a temple for ten 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 second happy moment:
A friend, one I have not seen for ten years, suddenly arrives at sunset.
I open the door to receive him, and without asking whether he came by boat or by land, and without bidding him to sit on the bed or the couch, I go to the inner chamber and ask my wife: “Have you got a gallon of wine like Su Tungp’o’s wife?”
My wife gladly takes out her gold hairpin to sell it. I calculate it will last us three days.
Ah, is this not happiness?
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