“Poverty Limits My Imagination”
Whenever people see others flaunting their wealth on social media, or interact briefly with the rich and famous, a common refrain is often heard: “贫穷限制了我的想象! (pín qióng xiàn zhì le wǒ de xiǎng xiàng) Poverty limits my imagination!”
This self-effacing sentence is saying that those with money can live lifestyles that the rest of us can’t even imagine, not because we’re not creative, but because we don’t have access to the resources that would let us experience the world in a totally different way.
1. 限制（xiàn zhì）
xiàn zhì: v./n. to restrict/restriction
Of course, there are different kinds of restrictions in our lives: highway speed limits that tell us how fast we can go (assuming that we want to be safe and not get a speeding ticket), weight limits for elevators or height limits of rides at amusement parks, or a limit on the number of people who can be in a store at once.
guó qìng jié kuài lái le ，nǐ dǎ suàn qù nǎ ér wán ？
国 庆 节 快 来 了，你 打 算 去 哪 儿 玩 ？
National Day is coming soon, where are you planning to go?
nǎ ér dōu bú qù ，pín qióng xiàn zhì le wǒ de xíng dòng 。
哪 儿 都 不 去， 贫 穷 限 制 了 我 的 行 动 。
I’m not going anywhere, poverty is limiting my travel.
2. 羡慕（xiàn mù）
xiàn mù: v. to envy
We often envy someone when they want something we have, whether it’s something physical (like a waterfront mansion) or intangible (like extreme athleticism). In some cases, the feeling of envy can provide inspiration and motivation, pushing us to turn our disadvantages into advantages, or surpass the “限制” (remember that word?) we thought we had. However, we need to make sure that envy does not manifest as negative feelings like jealousy, spite, or even hatred!
wǒ zhēn xiàn mù nǐ kě yǐ zài jiā gōng zuò
我 真 羡 慕 你 可 以 在 家 工 作。
I really envy that you can work from home.
kàn dào nǐ měi tiān dōu kě yǐ qù cān jiā jù huì ， wǒ xiàn mù jí le 。
看 到 你 每 天 都 可 以 去 参 加 聚 会 ， 我 羡 慕 极 了 。
Seeing that you can go to parties every day, I am extremely envious.
3. 想象（xiǎng xiàng）和幻想（huàn xiǎng）
xiǎng xiàng: v./n. to imagine/ imagination
huàn xiǎng: n. fantasy
Imagination and fantasy is something everyone has experienced: at the most basic level we use what we already know and use it to think about what might be or how things could go. It’s neither good nor bad, but when we are able to put in the effort to make what we imagine into reality, it’s the stuff of dreams: it’s literally what we mean by the expression “make your dreams come true”.
wǒ xiǎng xiàng zhe wǒ men wèi lái de měi hǎo shēng huó 。
我 想 象 着 我 们 未 来 的 美 好 生 活 。
I’m imagining our beautiful life.
tā huàn xiǎng yǒu yì tiān kě yǐ xiàng xiǎo niǎo yí yàng zhǎng chū chì bǎng 。
他 幻 想 有 一 天 可 以 像 小 鸟 一 样 长 出 翅 膀。
He dreamed that one day he could grow wings like a bird.
wǒ men fēi cháng tā yǒu yī wèi dāng jī zhǎng de fù qīn 。
我 们 非 常_______他 有 一 位 当 机 长 的 父 亲。
We are very that he has a father who is a captain.
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