29 7/12: The Taoist

I got these tattoos to remind myself to stay on the path. A reminder like this is something of a paradox; to be on the path is to be unaware of the path.

Even though I strongly believed in the tenets of Taoism, I still found myself off the path more often than on it. There was a point where I began to question whether I was truly a Taoist or just a Tao-enthusiast, because my understanding of the ideas didn’t necessarily mean an ability to apply them to my life.

Self portrait at 29 7/12


But over time, I forgot about my tattoos. Or, should I say, I stopped thinking about them, the way one may be so accustomed to the nose on one’s face as to never dwell on the idea of it’s existence.

In the same way, I’ve forgotten about the path too, even though I know I’m on it. I don’t seek council from the Tao Te Ching nowadays, because there’s nothing left that I don’t understand. I found the feeling of serenity I’d been seeking for so long.

I turn 30 in five months, and I finally believe I’m a Taoist.

The Turning 30 Series


  1. “(…) because there’s nothing left that I don’t understand.” Wow, really? I sure hope I don’t understand everything when I’ll be close to my thirties…

    And I don’t know much or enough about Taoism. I think I’ll have to read a bit more about it

    • I should explain that “understanding everything” also implies the belief that there are things I’ll never understand. In other words, I know there are many things in the universe beyond comprehension, eventual or otherwise. Taoism is full of paradoxes like that.

      I can understand that it sounds scary to have no more mysteries in life left, but I believe in the contrary; that life will always be full of mysteries. It’s in this way that I understand them, and truly believing this has freed me.

      • It not only sounds scary it sounds boring too. I belief that life will be filled with mysteries too and I think I know what you are saying there. Understanding you can’t understand it all frees you, right? If so, I might really have to read more about Tao, because it might really suit me.


  2. Wow! I don’t really know how i came to this blog, but yesterday
    I was exactly thinking about if doing or not a Tao tatoo.

  3. Sorry I’m a bit late on commenting.

    That’s the beautiful of the philosophical Tao isn’t it? I think it’s one of those things once you realize the essence of it, you don’t need to over think it, otherwise it’d be rather paradoxical to its teaching. That’s the same reason why I stopped writing about Tao on my blog.

    I find Tao philosophy comforting, because it has made me to see things clearly for what they are. It’s not something I consciously think about, therefore I’m hesitant to call myself a Taoist.

    • Actually, I think the fact that you don’t consciously think about it makes you more of a Taoist. I find true Taoists (who are very rare indeed) don’t even know about the philosophy. Look at Winnie the Pooh, and Zorba the Greek.

    • Ah, have you ever read The Tao of Pooh? It really helped refine my ideas and understanding of Taoism. It’s supposed to be the best explanation of Eastern ideas in Western terms (something which I don’t believe is possible without an understanding of the culture and language too).

      • Yes I have read it. I think it’s better than any of the English translations of TTC out there. It’s explained as Taoism should have.

  4. Agree @ above, part of dao is avoiding universalism, it’s often poision for the mind and body. while many of the words sound universal they are the strongest warnings; when anything less will not express the gravity needed for the message. we use it this way too, too give somthing more weight, but then we seize upon the words literally and use them as a rule, the words become more important than the original message behind them, and we lose the real meaning and are left with an overbearing husk. (apologies I’m in a bit of a mess right now over this, mental restructuring!)

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