When I was in my teens, I stumbled across author Pearl Buck (1892-1973) and became hooked on her stories. She gave accountings of China, their customs and beliefs. I loved traveling to a land that she obviously loved.
Pearl Buck grew up in China, where her parents served as missionaries. She lived in China until 1934, with the exception of the years she spent at universities. Pearl Buck began to write in the twenties; her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, appeared in 1930. It was followed by too many titles to account.
My favorite story of hers was Peony. It’s a story set in 1861 China about a young servant who, at an early age, was bought to take care of the son in the Jewish House of Ezra. She grew up playing with David, and as the two became older, Peony became not only his servant, but his friend.
David saw that Peony was a beautiful and very kind person. She had been a wonderful servant to him, but more importantly, she had been a true friend. David fell in love Peony, but to confess his feelings and come to terms with them was simply out of the question. He could not marry her due to the differences in their race, social standing and religion.
Pearl Buck’s moral to the story: Good and bad must be weighed, and one can determine that with all the sadness that life produces, happiness can be found in each and every situation.
When I was in my twenties, I read the story again and was surprised to find the plot was far different from what I had remembered. When I was in my fifties and found the book on my bookshelf again, I read it for the third time. Amazingly, the plot once again didn’t resemble what I remembered from reading it either of the previous times. This got me to thinking. The plot obviously hadn’t changed, I had. Our life’s experiences reflect how we perceive stories. It could certainly explain why we get such a range of scores in contests.
Have you ever had an experience like this? I suppose as we age and experience life, we all change our attitudes and the way we see life. I’d like to think that I seek out the happier moments to remember.