Ten days after the Wenchuan earthquake, Shi Yan, a postgraduate from the China Foreign Affairs University, finally forced herself to close the news page and opened her favorite website, Taobao.com. On the page there were clothes and cosmetics as usual, but she felt disinterested for the first time.
"I always sought flaunty things before. I was quite attracted by a pair of sandals worth over 400 yuan before the earthquake, but now I have little desire to buy it." Soon, Shi Yan made a decision. She saved such money and donated it to the disaster relief. "I have learned that safety and health are the most valuable things in one's life. Inner enrichment can never be achieved just by creature comfort," she said.
Since 14:28 on May 12, how many hearts have been moved due to the Wenchuan earthquake? How many people's lives have been changed?
Recently, an online survey by the China Youth Daily and the Sohu Education reveals that, among 4,309 people surveyed, 88 percent believe that this earthquake has changed their life while only 8.9 percent think there is no change.
"Even those colleagues who love slicking up themselves dress simply these days. Someone even put a post on the company forum to remind us of not talking and laughing loudly on the bus," Long Yi, an employee of a network company in Xi'an, said. At 2:28 PM on May 19, when air raid sirens and horns of automobiles, trains and ships wailed in grief, people stood out of their seats and the whole office was in complete silence.
But Ms. Hu, a 28-year-old lady, had a different response. She was once so thrifty that if she earned 3,000 yuan she would deposit 2,000 yuan. This time, she declared in face of all friends, "Life is so weak. I only want to eat and drink well at present. I won't deposit money any more to the detriment of living my life. I won't give up what I like any more due to money. I won't lose weight any more!"
The survey also indicates that 82.1 percent of the people express their thoughts to cherish life more and work hard to create more value; 70.7 percent think they will contribute more to help those in need; while 28.5 percent say that "since life is bitter and short, I will enjoy more pleasure in my life."
Besides, the earthquake has changed people's life habits. According to the survey, 61.2 percent will learn more about emergency help and prepare these common tools at home; 60.3 percent will attend more commonweal activities and contribute their love to more people; and 35.3 percent will reduce use of luxurious items and save money to make donations for people in need of help.
Yi Wencheng, a postgraduate who will graduate in June this year, canceled her long-planned graduation travel and donated this sum of money to disaster areas. "I didn't know what I lived for before. Now I know I live not only for myself but for our family members, our friends and our compatriots."
Before that, she was worried about which job offer to take and the whole mind was full of issues such as Hukou and wages. Now she feels that all her worries are caused by her own thoughts. "I will try my best to choose the life I want to lead and keep myself in a better mood," Yi said.
It is said that disaster is a mirror. In face of the mirror, muddleheaded people become clear in mind, numb people learn to think about themselves and sad people began to move on.
Since the earthquake, one word has been repeatedly mentioned, that is, "cherish". Life is going on. People find no other words could describe their inner emotions and desire more exactly.
The survey reveals that 77.9 percent will have closer contact with their families and friends after the earthquake while only 21.9 percent think they will behave like before.
"We haven't known how precious the relationship among people is until the earthquake happened." On May 12, Xi'an, where Long Yi lives, also had a strong sense of earthquake and later some aftershocks were also forecast. Many people went to live on the square that night. However, in order to take care of her one-year-old child, Long Yi decided to stay at home.
"Why haven't you been out?" "Hold the kid in your arm. I have one more blanket." Soon, the neighbors knocked at the door one by one. In face of the anxious and concerned expressions in her neighbors' eyes, Long Yi found for the first time that her unfamiliar neighbors were so dependable.
In this survey, 39.4 percent admitted that they were busy with their work and they were not concerned enough with their families and friends. They had only business contact with colleagues and classmates. 41.4 percent said "actually they are quite concerned with them, but such feelings aren't expressed."
As for life in the future, 14.6 percent said "I am a workaholic and will spend more time with my family and friends"; 54.8 percent believed they would not only care and help those they knew but assist the strangers in need of help; 60.5 percent agreed, "Conflicts among people are unavoidable and we should get on with others in a tolerant way."
"In the morning the sunshine touches my bed. It is a blessing that I could open my eyes and see the sun." In the survey, some interviewees believed they had got new ideas about life after the May 12 earthquake.
"Now I feel how happy it is to lead a peaceful life with my family," said Wen Ying, a company employee in central China's Hunan Province.
(China.org.cn by Wang Wei, May 30, 2008)