Groping for Stones to Cross the River

Original title: Traverser la rivière en tâtant les pierres

Publication Date:

May 2019



Original language and publisher

French | Tallandier

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia



Groping for Stones to Cross the River

Original title: Traverser la rivière en tâtant les pierres


The ten sayings presented in this book are collected from the daily life in China. I have chosen them because they have been loyal companions in my life as they can be in yours.

They guide the heart towards the essential questions in life, the ones about death and our relationship with our ancestors. They encourage you to love your country, teach you to not separate joy and sadness, to not lose patience, to understand others. They remind you of the benefits of precision and warn you to not overdo it. They invite you to advance in life like you would in a river, without forgetting to appreciate the solidity of the bearing points.

They reconcile speed and patience, momentum and pauses. They are precious sayings for today’s society.

Sayings presented in this book
Listen to what has not been said, read in people’s faces.

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

Rise and fall of a nation rests with every one of its citizens

To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without roots.

Adding feet to a drawing of a snake

The knower does not speak, the speaker does not know

Let nature take its course

Misfortune might be a blessing in disguises

To mark the boat to find one’s sword

Groping for stones to cross the river

Christine Cayol has been living in Beijing since 2003. After studying philosophy, in  2009 she set up ‘Yishu 8’, a Chinese version of the Villa Medici which hosts artists in Beijing, organises artistic events and invites Chinese artists to immerse themselves in French culture. She is the author of À quoi pensent les Chinois en regardant Mona Lisa and Pourquoi les chinois ont toujours le temps ?, translated into Spanish (Urano) and Dutch (Ten Have).