In the process of learning botany, there have been so many Latin codes that don't make sense to me. Just like many incidents in life, at the moment we'll think they do nothing but cause confusion. Over the past few months, I have accumulated some knowledge. Slowly, I can guess the common rule behind the exhibits in the herbarium. The only word I can think of to describe the epiphany is "Oh!" Which says so little and so much at the same time.
I should be traveling in Bangkok this weekend, but I decided not to go due to the political riots. Thus, I had extra time to spend in the herbarium. Every weekend, I took the same route, but I never felt bored. I have the key to A MUSEUM in the city. During the three hours of my shift, I will encounter people I wouldn't have a chance to know in my whole life. On the relaxing Sunday morning, the memories of my American life came to mind as I walked on the quiet campus. However, I didn't feel lonely at all.
On my visits to many museums in the past, I had noticed that most guards either stood or sat, mostly in boredom. But in the exhibit room, I've never got a spare moment. It is far from small; yet there are always items for me to take a close look at and books to read. It thrilled me when I recognized one or two Latin words out of millions of lines. I wonder, there must be a very simple rule behind all these codes.
Now that I know there are too many stories behind the exhibits, how I wish everyone who comes could hear me talk. Then they'll take away at least one or two stories with them when they leave.
And even if they don't listen to stories, I hope they will find an unforgettable code or message. Maybe one day when they look back, it will find a way into their lives again.
The three-year-old Wright came to visit me on the super sunny Saturday afternoon. He rolled with happiness on the floor and played with the stamp, which is his connection with the herbarium.
I had the exhibit room all to myself on the lazy Sunday morning. When I was wiping the display windows, Guei-mei and Hsin-huei, my favorite staff members, gave me a surprise visit. In our casual talk, I realized that the room is full of codes I don't understand. Take the symbols on the blackboard for example. They are about the structure of Fabaceae flowers. The two ladies taught me word by word. I admire them two for they learn from actual life experiences, so what comes from their mouths always sounds so convincing and powerful.
Earlier this week in Yun-lin (in central Taiwan), it had occurred to me that maybe I should turn to nature and learn right there because I believe I need to learn through seeing with my own eyes. However, Hsin-huei, an unofficial botanist, told me that I can start from learning in the herbarium.
While we were sorting out the dried seeds, Hsin-huei mentioned offhandedly that she is about to leave the herbarium. At first I thought it was just a joke, but then we began to talk a lot about life apart from plants. As my shift drew to an end, the ladies invited me for lunch. We spent the afternoon like really close friends though we met only four months ago. Before going on our separate ways, Guei-mei asked me, "You know why we came to you today?" I replied, "It's a farewell party isn't it." Though I understood why such a choice was made, I didn't feel the backlash of my sadness until I walked home alone.
I guess it has made sense why I couldn't make it to Bangkok, or I wouldn't have had a chance to say goodbye properly. I will bear in mind all the codes and stories that Hsin-huei taught me, and one day when we meet again, I will share THE RULE that botany will have taught me about life.