Someone wrote to me saying how she appreciated my handling of the topic of death and grief in my new novel A Ghost in My Suitcase. She asked what inspired me to write about these sensitive issues?
Death IS a very sensitive issue, but perhaps more so in Australia than in China.
The Chinese view of death is more practical. They believe that it is a natural cycle – that one generation must give way to the next. When my son Ren, was four years old, he told me, ‘If you didn’t die, then the babies that come alive, when you drive a car everyone would crash into each other. There would be too many people driving.’ I laughed at his explanation, but even at such a young age, he was aware of the principle of Yin and Yang.
The Chinese also say that you can go as far away from home as you like, but in the end you need to return. Again – a circle. This is why Celeste is bringing her mother’s ashes home to the Isle of Clouds.
The idea of Yin and Yang the cycle of day to night, of summer through to winter,
of life to death, is explained in this symbol.
Here you have a circle divided into white on the left Yang, and black on the right – Yin. But in each half you see a smaller circle in the opposing colour. This means that each half contains a seed of the other.
Now if we use this diagram to explain the course of a day for example, the white half of the circle – Yang – begins at the bottom in a very small quantity. This represents the breaking dawn. But then, as Yang energy grows stronger, the white area grows bigger until you have a large amount of white at the top. This represents the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. But just as you reach this peak, then it changes, and now you see Yin energy creeping in. At the bottom of the circle where there is a large quantity of black, you have midnight. But just as it reaches twelve oclock, the cycle repeats itself and you see Yin growing weaker and Yang growing stronger all over again.
This concept can even apply to powerful countries and their demise.