Random Thoughts on the Window

By Qian Zhongshu

It is spring again and the window can be left open as often as one would like. As spring comes in through the windows, so people -- unable to bear staying inside any longer -- go outdoors.

The spring outside, however, is much too cheap, for the sun shines on everything, and so does not seem as bright as that which shoots into the darkness of the house. Outside the sun-sloshed breeze blows everywhere, but it is not so lively as that which stirs the gloominess inside the house.

Even the chirping of the birds sounds so thin and broken that the quietness of the house is needed to set it off. It seems that spring was always meant to be put behind a windowpane for show, just like a picture in a frame.

At the same time it also becomes clear that the door has a different significance from the window. Of course, doors were made for people to pass through; but a window can also sometimes serve as an entrance or as an exit, and is used as such by thieves and by lovers in novels.

In fact the fundamental difference between a door and a window has nothing to do with them being either entrances or exits. When it comes to the admiration of spring, it could be put this way: a door makes it possible for one to go out, whereas a window makes it possible for one not to have to.

A window helps to pull down the partition between man and nature. It leads breezes and sunlight in, and keeps part of the spring in the house. It allows one to sit and enjoy the spring in peace, and makes it unnecessary to go looking for it outside.