The Ties That Bind Us

In Chinese folklore, two people who are meant to be together are tied by red thread, a single line of thread seemingly flimsy and unsustainable.  But have you ever tried to break a piece of thread with your hands? The material digs deep into your skin, persistent and unyielding.  This magical, invisible, stubborn line binds you to your one.

The tie does not come easily.  It is said that ten years of cultivation grants you a passing encounter and a hundred years of cultivation will allow you to share the same pillow.  A century of past lives and encounters, good deeds and misfortunes, accumulate to bring you to this lifetime, weaving this red thread that intricately pulls you closer to your one.

If all of us believed that to be true, we would not dismiss anyone who crossed our paths and shared our pillows, even for one night.  We would wonder how many good deeds we had to accomplish, how many misfortunes we had to endure, before we were rewarded with this encounter, this love.

There is a tale about a young girl who was the disciple of the celestial being of love in the heavens.  She had accidentally broken a line of thread and was sent to earth as a mortal to fix her mistake.  Her mission was to find the two people who were meant to be together and mend the broken red thread between them.  She found the man first and fell in love with him.  Knowing that she couldn’t stay with him forever, she placed a pebble into a glass jar after each day she spent with him and promised herself that when that jar was full, she would finish her mission.

The celestial being intervened; he mended the red thread and brought his disciple back to the heavens.  She pleaded with him to allow her to return to earth.  He warned her that if she truly wanted to be mortal, she would have to be reborn, she would not be able to be with the man she loved.  And as a mortal, she would feel love and joy, but she would also suffer from pain and heartache, endure illness and ultimately face death.  But she was determined; she would rather be in the same world as him than watch him from afar.  In this lifetime, they would not be together, but there was always the next, the one after that, and the one after that…


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