In 2007, my grandma passed away. When I saw her, the person who loved me the most, lying quietly over the iron bed of the crematorium, I could not help crying. On the night of the first 7th night after her death, I saw her again, in a motel in Fengdu. After I woke up, I wanted to cry but I had no tears. Looking at the river outside the window, I felt as if the world had become silent.
This was the first time I came to the Three Gorges.
The place where scholars and literati used to express their filled with enthusiasm.
The place which returned to tranquility after being noisy for such a long time.
The Three Gorges have long been the means via which poets experience life. The gorge rivers, which integrate danger and beauty, attract them and lure them to explore, to adventure, and to roam about.
Passion, boldness and generosity perhaps used to be a component of their memories. The remained peoms resemble the torrential river and precipitous gorge. They are the expression of their life in seclusion. The poets are so lonely that they could only sing and drink with the mountains and rivers, and experience the river-like continuity and growth of life in silence. This remains until the famous romatic poem, “Till a Still Lake Rises in the Narrow Gorges”, endows the Three Gorges contradiction and illusion, estrangement and resignedness again. The river, which is a symbol for life, is changed as per the requrements of nature; rivers turn into lakes, making the Three Gorges enter into a new era.
The history coexists with the reality; the pride coexists with sadness.
But life continues, yes, life continues. We are so ordinary and small. We will experience joy, sorrow, happiness and confusion in life. We sometimes feel completely at loss about what have happened and what is about to happen, but we still need to live, even if life is changing every day. People in the reservoir of the three gorges are like us. They are busy with the battle against the environment and coping with the challenges of social economy. They are making a living with resilience and determination.
During these three years, I had walked across the reservoir of the Three Gorges again and again. When I saw the river, the people and the conversation without an end, I felt that they were like the interlacing between clouds and dreams. I came upon them repeatedly. I took photos calmly, but in my mind, I felt as if something was going to to come out with great force. I experienced the emotions hidden within the quiet lake and the collision between human and life. These scenes seemed peaceful. The ordinary people seemed to be connected with me. They seemed to be far away while feeling so close. The only thing I could feel was the similar atmosphere. The loneliness surrounded by noise and the confusion in the disguise of quietness were similar to life itself. They gave out instinctive sounds. Their existence was eternal, just like the undercurrents under the peaceful river. And I had no clue as to where they flowed.
Sixty years ago, a teenager who had just become mature stood at the head of the boat. The boat was heading toward the destination far away, a place with dreams and confusion. My father left his hometown, sailed out of The Three Gorges and went to Wuhan to study. This was the first time that he left his hometown--BaiSha Town, JiangJin District, ChongQing, a small town near Yangtze River. After many years, the Three Gorge Project was completed. This place, which is over 600 km from the dam, became the end of the reservoir of the Three Gorges. When I was young, they often told me that my native place was this small town, a place that was strange yet familiar to me. After taking photos of here for many times, i finally realized the meaning of this place to them. Our ancestors resided by the river. The river was not only the foundations for local people’s survival, but also carried their hope and dream. In 2008, next to the Yangtze River in FengJie, under the Immigrants’ Monument that was being demolished, an old man pointed at the direction of the river and told me that: “over there lies Shanghai, where the river meets the sea.”
In 2009, in a foggy morning, in a nameless mountain, I was feeling the tranquility of the environment. The rising fog was spreading in all directions, making my vision blurred. The site felt like a soundless scene in the dream, so quiet, as if there was no content. I took a photo for Huanghuang, who was resting on a stone chair. That was the last photo taken in The Three Gorges during those three years. The silence was interrupted by the loud siren of the ship, causing an echo which penetrated the formless fog. That was a sign for a new journey, clear and fuzzy. In that year, Huanghuang became pregnant, and we had a new life.
Ten years after that, our children has been 9 years old. I am no longer young and these photos are also placed there for ten years. When I view these pictures again, I am taken back to The Three Gorges, and I am re-transformed to the old me--confused and lost. However, life hasn’t rendered me an answer. It goes on in its own way. We still cherish our old dreams and are curious about the unknown future. “People can not step twice into the same river.” The humans and things that we met in the photo look at us at certain moments and bring us out of the reality. However, we are merely meeting us again, who follow our hearts and walk randomly. The STILL LAKE is like a mirror. It reflects people’s soul. It walks side by side with the life reflected by it and explores the meaning of life.
The river still going on.