The famous ancient Chinese fable Yugong Yi Shan (Mr. Fool Who Moved the Mountains) tells the story of Yugong, who, even in his 90s, worked with his sons and grandsons to try to remove two huge mountains blocking their way to the other side. Shovel by shovel, year after year, their hard work eventually touched the Ruler of Heaven who had the mountains taken away. The fable about the virtues of perseverance despite enormous difficulties has stood the test of time.
Write a new story set in modern times using the ideas implied in the fable of Yugong Yi Shan. Choose a title for your composition and write between 600 and 800 words.
"106!" The cry of disappointment breaks the silence of the peaceful night.
In darkness, he stands still there, with tears dropping continuously from his eyes.
He is a 5th-year Ph.D. student majoring in biology. His friends usually call him "undefeatable Ma" because of his resilience. In his teachers' eyes, he is always calm and gentle.
This is his 106th attempt to cultivate strawberries which could bear extreme climates. In his 105th experiment, he did all the pre-processes that he knew which could lead him closer to his goal. All he needed was to wish for a proper mutation. Every generation of the strawberry seemed to bring him closer to success, but every time the result was alike—failure, failure, failure. Failure, it seems, has become a buzzword in his life. He has literally got used to it. But this time, he can hardly help feeling frustrated and angry.
"Who stole my experimental strawberry!"
Last night, when he got to the field, he was thrilled. Although most of the plants were obviously dying, one plant stood vigorously in the middle of the experimental field. The plant was labeled "Plant No. 106". What a coincidence! In his 106th attempt, the 106th plant was finally mutating in its ideal way. To him, every inch of the field was perishing, but it didn't matter at all, because on that very inch of the field stood the very strawberry—the spark of hope.
Last night, Plant No. 106's fruit started to turn red. Ma was never so close to success. What he needed to do was to wait for several days to harvest that incarnadined, shiny, attractive fruit.
But this night, the fruit disappears. So does his hope.
It couldn't be devoured by a random bird, because the field was covered by sonars which would definitely drive them away. It couldn't be blown away by the storm, for there should be no big winds in this area. Before he selected this place as the experimental field, he had made every possible preparation he could. The only explanation is that some thirsty passer-by took it and ate it, disregarding the sign which writes "Experimental field, no stealing".
"3 years' effort! 1096 days' struggling! 13152 hours' DNA editing and experiment. ALL GONE!" he murmurs to himself remorsefully. He regrets that he didn't get a small sample of the stolen strawberry last night. After he saw that plant, he was confident that this plant would survive to the very last minute, so there would be no need for him to get the sample in a hurry. But he neglected the possibilities of incidents.
Now he is using his fingers to dig the ground. He doesn't know why he is doing so. He is well aware that the results of the past 106 attempts are all wasted because of the incident and his not taking the sample in time. He has no seeds left. At the present, he seems to have only 2 choices: to start from the very beginning, or to give up.
While he is trying to figure out which way he should take, he uses his finger to dig the soil of that inch of field which used to contain his hope. No matter what the result is, he wants to bring some soil back as a testament to his 3-year effort. Out of the blue, he touches something that feels different.
It is a sprouting seed!
It was accidentally planted too close to the mutated plant that it failed to get enough nutrition to grow as fast as its siblings. But it is growing, and it looks even more vigorous than No. 106 in this more rigid environment. It is obvious that this slowly-growing plant will bring out an even better experimental result than Plant No.106 Ma names it Plant No. 106-1.
Ma is so excited that he bursts into tears. If the passer-by hadn’t stolen Plant N0. 106, if he hadn't dug the soil after he thought he failed, he would miss this extraordinarily special mutation. Everything is not only hopeful again, but becoming even better.
Sometimes, we may find ourselves in darkness, feeling helpless and desperate, just like Plant No. 106-1, just like Ma. But never give in, for darkness may be evanescent. Please be patient and hold your virtues of perseverance, for maybe "we" are just being planted.
不同于许多其他作品，这一篇自始至终没有提到“Mr. Fool”或者“愚公精神”。然而，故事开头的第一句话“'106!' The cry of disappointment breaks the silence of the peaceful night.”便已点出主题。读者不禁想知道，是怎样的“perseverance”，才能让主人公做106次实验？故事聚焦在第106次实验，这位马博士一如既往的坚持不懈、永不放弃的“perseverance”跃然纸上。读者已经看到，如果这一次失败了，尽管1096天的汗水付之东流，他定会再来一次，因为他“has literally got used to it”。于是，之前105次实验的各种艰辛与执着，希望、失败、重来、再失败、再重来的情景，便任凭读者去想象了。不少选手将“determination”误当作“perseverance”，或者更凸显了“determination”，则是败笔。
“惊喜——失望——决心重来——再次惊喜”的情节与情绪相一致。前一天晚上的惊喜，在大量衰败的秧苗中惊现一枝独秀，No. 106，成竹在胸。然而胜利果实意外被盗，犹如一盆凉水倾盆而下。就在马博士细心地检查实验田，为新征程做准备之际，又有了“无心插柳柳成荫”的意外惊喜。在No. 106不远处，一株瘦小的备选苗正呈现出更加旺盛的生命力。如果故事止于“重头再来”，也算是一个现代版的“愚公移山”的故事。但是这位选手却能一波三折，再次掀起高潮，并升华主题。题目“Being Planted”的含义与“perseverance”更是相映得彰。
5th-year Ph.D.、“strawberries” in “extreme climates”、DNA editing、mutated plant、No.106-1……这些都是现代社会一名青年科研工作者的日常工作细节。这与许多将愚公移山故事空置于“现代社会”，却不见现代元素的故事形成鲜明对比。正足以说明，历史虽然不断地发展，永不止步，而人类的精神却始终相通，相承，并且永恒！