How to make of yourself an evening vessel

Today’s four-character compound stands in direct opposition to last time’s 栴檀は双葉より芳し.

大器晩成
tai.ki.ban.sei

Literally: big – container/tool – evening – become

Alternately: Great skill blooms late. Just as a large vessel such as a cauldron or temple bell isn’t cast and finished quickly or easily, so does enormous talent in a person require years, even a lifetime, of practice and polish before it comes to fruition.

Notes: This saying is attributed to Laozi (aka Lao-Tze aka Lao-Tzu), founder of Taoism.

Media:

So here’s a link to a video of some generic Japanese pubescent-girl group singing about how they want to seize their opportunities now instead of waiting for 大器晩成 to happen. This is important, though: while they have no idea what they’re talking about, they’re not actually wrong. If you want to get good at stuff, you don’t just sit on your butt until Ding! you magically become a genius at 60 or something. No, you go out there and you work and you practice and you build up the experience and lessons that will one day make you great.

So they’re right to say that relaxing and lying to yourself by saying “I’m just a late bloomer” is foolish. On the other hand, they’re missing the point that if they keep on doing what they do for decades, they’ll fulfill the 大器晩成 prophecy by, for example, eventually learning how to actually dance and/or sing instead of simply bouncing around being teenaged.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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