⟨ Object ⟩

Believing in Totoro

Foolishness? No, It's Not

Words / 夏侯露茜
Illustration / Furze Chan

寫這稿子前夕,獲知美國詩人瑪莉・奧利佛(Mary Oliver)逝世的消息,我瞪著電腦屏幕失神,想起兒子蔦悠今晨吃早點時凝望窗外樹影良久,忽地惋惜說:「樹倒了,好可憐啊。」

這句台詞,抄襲自數月前我在跟他散步時看見大樹們被颱風山竹推倒的感嘆。對於兩歲半的這位小小人兒來說,記憶仍然是很飄忽不定的東西,突然在腦海中閃現了,也不管是已過去了不復存在的場境,急不及待便選用現在式向大家宣告。雖然蔦悠借用了我的話語,我卻明白他是想要表達對大樹們的愛。於是我告訴他,有一位瑪莉小姐,很喜歡為花草樹鳥寫詩,其中一篇 〈Foolishness? No, It’s Not〉 提及,她有時候會花上一整天嘗試為一棵樹細數葉子。她會從一條枝椏攀往另一條去,在小小筆記本上抄下每條枝椏的葉子數目。最終雖然徒勞無功,她卻意外尋獲美好的非凡風光,在眾葉豐盛與枝椏寂靜之間,窺見不可思議的奇妙世界。

聽到這裡,蔦悠問:「會有龍貓嗎?」

對了,瑪莉小姐,你是不是也認為,相信龍貓存在是很重要的事情?你曾經說,有一棵百年橡樹跟你尤其親近,你喚它作「諾亞」,時常跟它擁抱親吻。也許你從沒告訴別人,你曾經大著膽子走進樹洞裡去,聽見龍貓躲在樹根底下扯鼾。那麼,讓我偷偷告訴你,當蔦悠還是藏在我的肚子裡時,某一個冬日下午我走往家附近的後山散步,在一處空地停下,抬頭靜看樹椏們顫抖呢喃;天上刮著怪異的風,教我想起行駛時也會刮起大風的貓巴士。我瞇起眼睛往前方的陰暗樹林裡探看,好像感覺到了有什麼神秘的東西也在好奇地望我,隨即把手心輕放於肚皮上,悄聲跟蔦悠說:「是龍貓吧。」

親愛的瑪莉小姐,你花盡一生探求人們遺忘的、這世界的不可思議;你也曾經詢問,對未知的敬畏悸動有何意義。我在想,你其實是一早已抄下答案了吧?

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open, 
which is the way I begin every morning. 
Then a wren in the privet began to sing. 
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm, 
I don’t know why. And yet, why not. 
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe 
or whatever you don’t. That’s your busniness. 
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be 
if it isn’t prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.*

節錄自瑪莉・奧利佛撰寫的詩歌 〈I Happened to Be Standing〉


Right before I started writing this article, I heard that the American poet Mary Oliver had passed away. Staring at my computer screen, I was at a loss. Then I remembered what my son Julian had blurted during breakfast this morning, when he was looking at the trees outside, “The trees fall. Poor them!”

This line was copied from what I had said a few months ago, when I was taking a walk with Julian and saw several trees having been knocked down by Typhoon Manghkut. For a two-and-a-half-year-old little being, “memory” is still an unpredictably strange thing. When it suddenly appears in his mind, Julian would announce it as if it is happening right then, unaware that it was a long-gone event. This time, although Julian had borrowed my words, I understood that he was expressing his love for the nature. So I told him, a lady called Miss Mary loves writing poems for the flowers and trees. In one particular poem, titled “Foolishness? No, It’s Not”,  she mentioned that sometimes she would “spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree”. She would “climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book”. In the end, although in vain, she would have found “a delicious and important place”. Among “the abundance of the leaves” and “the quietness of the branches”, she would have caught a glimpse of wonders in an incredible world. 

Upon hearing this, Julian asked, “Is Totoro there?”

Indeed, Miss Mary, I wonder if you would agree, it is important to believe that Totoro does exist? You once said, there was one particular century-old oak tree which you felt especially close to you. You called it Noah; you gave it many kisses and hugs. Perhaps you never told anyone, you once took the courage to enter its tree hole and heard Totoro snoring under its roots. Let me tell you a secret then. On one winter afternoon, with Julian still inside my belly, I strolled into the woods nearby where I live. When I reached an open space, I paused and looked up at the trembling branches, paying attention to their whispers. I could almost see the strange wind in the sky, which reminded of the Catbus in Hayao Miyazaki’s movie, Totoro. I squinted my eyes and looked further ahead. All of a sudden, I felt some mysterious creature watching me curiously. I gently placed my palm on my belly and whispered to Julian, “Totoro is here.” 

Dear Miss Mary, you have spent your whole life searching for the wonders in this world, which the others have long forgotten. You have also asked for the true meaning to be in awe of the unknown. But then I guess you have already written down the answers, haven’t you? 

While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open, 
which is the way I begin every morning. 
Then a wren in the privet began to sing. 
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm, 
I don’t know why. And yet, why not. 
I wouldn’t persuade you from whatever you believe 
or whatever you don’t. That’s your busniness. 
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be 
if it isn’t prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.*

* An excerpt from “I Happened to Be Standing”, a poem written by Mary Oliver.