Posts tagged with "Pat"

Lost Among Friends

Wrapping pigs in a blanket

Thumbnail: Washing beaters
Thumbnail: cantaloupe seeds
Thumbnail: Making French toast
Thumbnail: Thick cut maple bacon
Thumbnail: Pouring smoothies
Thumbnail: Cooked waffles
Thumbnail: Cheesecake
Thumbnail: Cooked pigs
Thumbnail: French toast
Thumbnail: Cantaloupe slices
 

Sunday pot luck brunch was a little different this weekend; instead of heading to Tim’s, I was at Pat and Jen’s. It was collection time for a sit-up competition (where Julie destroyed everyone in both the largest total sit-ups and most improved over the last two months, winning $60), and we decided to get together to see how everyone was feeling, perhaps compare a six-pack or two.

There were homemade waffles, fresh fruit, honey bacon, French toast, pigs in blankets, smoothies, croissants, and cheesecake. So much delicious food that I could eat, now that I’m on medication to control food induced flare-ups, and I happily gorged myself.

Waffle with fruit

It was such a lazy Sunday. Long conversations sitting around the table, then hanging out and playing games for hours while the food digested.

Pat later told me he used to come here and read about what’s happening with me, but has stopped reading altogether. The reason — and he paused as he was telling me this so that I understood the gravity of it — was that he would rather hear things from me personally.

While this is far from the first time I’ve written about my friendship with him, it still amazes me. We rarely get any one-on-one time, even when I’m over at his house on the weekends for food and conversation, unless it’s on the phone.

Pat always takes such a concern about what’s going on in my life. He asks all the right questions. He listens wholeheartedly without interrupting. He never judges me. He calms me because everything he says makes so much sense. Just being able to open up, where I’m vulnerable, and have him completely accept what I’m saying makes me overflow with emotion.

Maybe I just need someone to understand me right now.

Self portrait

I think I’m going through a period where I’m not getting enough social interaction. My friends are too busy, or our schedules don’t work out. It’s left me confused and disillusioned.

Everyone seems to fit somewhere, but I’m not sure where that leaves me. On days like this, when I’m surrounded by people, it makes me think that perhaps I still don’t know where I belong.

Someone To Take Care Of Me

It’s times like this I wish I had someone to take care of me1, because I’m tired of taking care of myself.

  1. Pat once told me there should be a person in every group who’s always controlled, calm, and together (in case of emergency, or otherwise), and he tries to be this person. It must be true, because he’s my rock, the friend who has never let me down. I once asked him if this idea extended to his marriage, and he told me that it applied to 90% of the time. But for the other 10%, when he’s tired, unmotivated, and doesn’t care anymore, Jenny takes over, and he admitted to me that he’s become dependent on this. []

Becoming Pat

At the core of our beings, Pat and I are the same person.

What separates us is our emotion, or lack thereof. Pat’s the logical one, I’m the emotional one. I’ve always looked up to him — his strength, his morals, his personality — without really understanding why.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve come to realize Pat is a Taoist. This comes with the realization that I’m a Taoist myself, and explains why I try to be more like him.

The interesting part is that he doesn’t even know that he’s a Taoist — sort of like Winnie the Pooh — which is exactly what makes him a true Taoist.

One of Chuang Tzŭ’s parables illustrates this point. In an abbreviated version, Knowledge seeks a conscious reflection to know the Tao, and asked Silent Do Nothing and Reckless Blurter, before asking The Yellow Emperor (ahhh, the Romantic personification of Chinese fables):

Knowledge said to The Yellow Emperor, “I asked Silent Do Nothing and he kept quiet. Not only didn’t he answer me, but he didn’t even know how to answer. I asked Reckless Blurter, and though he wanted to tell me, he didn’t, and even forgot my questions. Now I’ve asked you, and you know all about it. Why do you say that you’re far from it?”.

The Yellow Emperor said, “Silent Do Nothing was truly right, because he didn’t know anything. Reckless Blurter was nearly right, because he’d forgotten it. You and I are far from right, because we know far too much“.

The same is true for Tai Chi1, or any martial art for that matter. Dissect it too much, and you lose the meaning. Think about it too much, and you don’t react. As Michael Babin wrote in his article on self-defense training:

It is sad but true that real skill comes from seemingly endless drilling of the basics and then learning how to transcend/forget most of what you have so patiently learned.

In other words, learning structure is essential to learning to react to a complete lack of structure (i.e. a real fight); but if you focus on structure for too long it becomes counter-productive to “being without structure” in martial terms. One of the many annoying paradoxes in the internal arts.

One of the many paradoxes in the Taoist philosophy as well. As much as I try to study it, learn it, and apply it, I find myself thinking about it too much. As a result, I occasionally stray from being centered, and lose my balance.

It’s the conscious reflection which Knowledge is seeking that preemptively dooms his search. This is my problem as well. I buy Taoist books with a thirst for knowledge, but they’re all telling me the same thing now. Not that the books haven’t helped at all, but I feel like I’ve reached a limit. Perhaps even the simple act of writing about this is counter-productive.

I have the understanding, but I can’t apply it without thinking about it first, and it’s the attempt to apply it that ruins the point. I’ve yet to reach a stage of pure reaction and spontaneity, like Pat.

But I’m getting there.

  1. Yet another example of how Tai Chi is the physical expression of the philosophy. Or perhaps this could be reverse-generalized, and said that the Taoist philosophy is reflected in everything, such as martial arts. []

Pat and Jen’s Wedding

Thumbnail: Before getting married

Though somewhat hectic, everything worked out in the end for Pat and Jen’s wedding.

Preparations

I missed the wedding rehearsal because I had to close the books for the month at work. I didn’t get to Pat’s place until 9:30 that night, which went late into the morning as loose ends were tied up, and Jason and I stayed up until 3:00 am to finish the slide show.

The girls got even less sleep I’m sure; the last I saw them they were giggling in bed like a high-school sleepover.

Before leaving for Jason’s place to stay the night (leaving the house for the girls), Pat gave me God of War 2 and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal as gifts for being in the wedding party.

Thumbnail: Kevin and me in the car
Thumbnail: The edge of downtown
Thumbnail: Groomsmen boutonniere
Thumbnail: Ken pins my boutonniere

In the morning we woke up at seven, had some muffins and coffee, decorated the cars, got dressed, and raced to the church.

Continue reading “Pat and Jen’s Wedding”…