A New Beginning at 30 三十歲的新生命
Jennifer’s Photo Stories (22)曾錚的圖片故事（22）
Since I decided to take a photo of myself at each birthday when I was 16, for 15 years, I had been sticking to this “tradition” very strictly and faithfully. And these two photos were taken at my 30th birthday.
Between my 16th and 30th birthday, a lot of important things happened: getting into Peking University, one of the best universities in China; becoming a graduate student of the same university without having to sit the entrance examination due to my extremely outstanding performance in undergraduate years; graduating with a Master of Science Degree; becoming a policy researcher and consultant at the prestigious and highest level government policy research and consultancy body: the Development Research Centre of the State Council of China; getting married and then giving birth to a lovely daughter; encountering medical negligence during childbirth and having my health totally ruined…Actually when I took these two photos, I was still in long-term sickness leave, and had not been able to work or look after my daughter for four years.
With so many ups and downs in between, the mood of a 30-year-old me was very different from that when I was 16. But one thing remained the same, and perhaps more intensive; and that was the self-consciousness and self-pity. There is a saying in China that “A 30-year-old man is like a flower; whilst a 30-year-old woman is like soya-bean residue.” Soya-bean residue is of course no good anymore for almost anything.
I cannot imagine what would had happened to me after I took my 30th birthday photos if “that thing” had not happened. But one thing would have been very sure, that was, I would have continued to take many birthday photos.
However, because of “that thing”, these two photos became the last “edition” of my birthday photos.
Well, “that thing” is: I took up Falun Gong between my 30th and 31st birthday.
After reading four Falun Gong books twice within two weeks, I felt like a blind person suddenly given the gift of sight, as if a paper window had been pierced and the endless panorama of nature’s mysteries revealed to me. It’s no exaggeration to say that these four books shook me more than all the other books I had ever read put together.
From these books I gained a totally new understanding of everything, and most importantly, of the purpose of human life.
I also knew that what I believed to be impossible and inevitable before could actually be controlled and changed. Sickness, aging, bad luck, fate, human stupidity and even death itself,… were no longer that formidable, and were actually changeable and conquerable.
With new realization of so many things, I felt that I had suddenly been completely set free spiritually, with all the worries and self-pity completely gone. What were left in my heart were ever-lasting lightness, happiness, gratitude, confidence, levelheadedness and firm faith in “Truthfulness-Compassion-Tolerance”.
In other words, with a new understanding that what happened to my physical body did not really represent what happened to my true being, I no longer felt that my age of this physical body was that important. It even became meaningless in a sense, as it didn’t represent the age of my true being.
Therefore, from then on, I have stopped my 15-year-long “tradition” of taking birthday photos. So, these two are the last ones that you’ll see.
This also brings an end to my “Jennifer’s Photo Stories” series. For what happened after my 31st birthday, please either read my memoir “Witnessing History:One woman's fight for freedom and Falun Gong”, or watch the award-winning documentary “Free China: the courage to believe” at: