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”…