Posts tagged with "Taoism"

The Little Man Must Go On

Live accord­ing to the sea­sons
In the town where I was born
Things have gotta have a rea­son
The sun don’t come before the dawn

(Thanks again, Antje.)

How did I lose another week? Another week of that snow smell and gui­tar lessons and Nordique red­heads I never asked out again. Lost to the trap­pings of life. So much has hap­pened, and yet noth­ing has changed, though things will be dif­fer­ent soon enough. And while I wish I could say that I had more to say about it all, I don’t.

teas in spoons

tea-table

tea served

Over some ancient moon­light white tea, Heather G asked how my belief in Taoism was going. It made me real­ize I hadn’t thought about it in a while, which is exactly the point. I’ve been try­ing not to try to act, and just been act­ing. Doing my best not to over-think things. Taking it one call, one con­ver­sa­tion, one day, one week at a time.

The Process (or why a tree is not a tree)

Take a leaf off a tree. Is it still a tree? Take a sin­gle twig off a tree. Is it still a tree? Remove an entire branch from a tree. Is it still a tree? Take off half of the branches. Is it still a tree? Cut down the whole tree, leav­ing only the stump. Is it still a tree? Many peo­ple would say no, it is no longer a tree, though the roots may still be in the ground. Well, where did the tree go? Removing a leaf, it remains a tree, but not by remov­ing all of the branches and the trunk?

In the real world, there aren’t any things as we com­monly think of them. A ‘thing’ as we refer to it is only a noun. A noun is merely an idea, a men­tal con­struct. These ‘things’ exist only in our minds. There is no tree, there is only the idea of a tree.

—Anonymous

I’ve been writ­ing here for almost a decade, pour­ing 10 years of my life into this blog. I recently con­sid­ered clean­ing up the con­tent by delet­ing a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of my old entries; I’m not the same per­son as when I wrote them, and I don’t even like who I was back then. Not to men­tion the fact that some are rather embar­rass­ing, like read­ing your old diary in high school when the biggest prob­lem was what peo­ple thought when you wore your uni­form cause you for­got it was a Civvies Day.

The prob­lem I was faced with was decid­ing what should be deleted. People aren’t sta­tic; they’re processes, events, evo­lu­tions, made up of cells that con­tin­u­ally renew them­selves on a daily basis. At what defin­able point can I say these entries are no longer me? It could be argued that even posts as recent as a few months ago aren’t an accu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion, though there may still rem­nants of the old me in the habits of my thoughts.

Then I came across this pas­sage in The Tao by Mark Forstater, on the sub­ject of how using human lan­guage to encom­pass and describe a con­cept such as the Tao is log­i­cally sus­pect: “Reality can’t be enclosed and described by words. Symbols aren’t real in the way that a tree is real, and how­ever much we may delude our­selves that they are, we’ll even­tu­ally find that the word ‘water’ won’t quench our thirst.”

I came to accept that the things I write here have never been and never will be a com­plete reflec­tion of who I am, so I’ve decided to keep all the entries. The ones writ­ten by my old self serve as a reminder of who I was, and at the very least, they tell me where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

Arrows with no target

I don’t view my projects the same way any­more. I used to work towards a goal, an idea of what I wanted to achieve. But more recently I stopped car­ing about the end result, prob­a­bly due to this new per­spec­tive on…every­thing.

It’s a strange jux­ta­po­si­tion of know­ing that what you’re doing is ulti­mately insignif­i­cant, and find­ing enjoy­ment in doing it any­way. Like a child stack­ing a pile of blocks, only to knock them down.

The wikipedia arti­cle on wu wei explains feel­ing this bet­ter than I can:

The goal for wu wei is to get out of your own way, so to speak. This is like when you are play­ing an instru­ment and if you start think­ing about play­ing the instru­ment, then you will get in your own way and inter­fere with your own play­ing. It is aim­less action, because if there was a goal that you need to aim at and hit, then you will develop anx­i­ety about this goal.

Zhuangzi made a point of this, where he writes about an archer who at first didn’t have any­thing to aim at. When there was noth­ing to aim at, the archer was happy and con­tent with his being. He was prac­tic­ing wu wei. But, then he set up a tar­get and “got in his own way.” He was going against the Tao and the nat­ural course of things by hav­ing to hit that goal.

(This also reminds me of a verse from Leonard Cohen’s True Love Leaves No Traces: “Through win­dows in the dark/The chil­dren come, the chil­dren go/Like arrows with no tar­gets/Like shack­les made of snow.)

Nowadays, I do what I feel like doing and don’t stress out about not fin­ish­ing a project, cause I know I’ll feel like work­ing on it another day. It leaves me more loose ends, but I don’t mind. Luckily, I love cre­at­ing things. Trying dif­fer­ent medi­ums. New ways of express­ing myself.

29 6/12: The Arrival

I haven’t had much to say lately. Suffering has always been a pre­req­ui­site for my cre­ativ­ity, as I only need to write when unful­filled or unhappy, and lately I haven’t felt either.

The real­iza­tion that I was happy only came when some­one asked how I was doing; I responded with my usual, generic, “I’m doing well, thanks”, and for the first time in as long as I could remem­ber, I didn’t feel like I was lying.

Self portrait at 29 6/12

 

Not that the desire to write has left me com­pletely. I still want to, though only because it’s an enjoy­able exer­cise in itself, not because I need to get some­thing off my chest. The world finally makes sense, and I won­der if it’s nec­es­sary to have this blog a place to sort out my thoughts anymore.

I’m sat­is­fied with the per­son I’ve become. I’ve stopped try­ing to change, or con­stantly fig­ur­ing out how to improve. I like me.

The seren­ity is get­ting bet­ter still, almost to the point where it’s an uncon­scious state-of-mind. Things don’t bother me the way they used to. I can dream with­out desire, I can live with­out bias, I can give with­out expect­ing, I can think with­out worry, and I can enjoy with­out guilt.

I turn 30 in half a year, and I finally feel like I’m where I should be.

The Turning 30 Series