Month: April 2007

Rocks on a Window

Sleep, and dream a troubled dream. Intruders on the property, invisible in the darkness. Sour waves of ill intent ignite the adrenalin powder keg, and you have panic. Call for help, but how do you say it? You’re no longer safe. There is no safety. Your world, your order, your chaos, they crumble; and you have no safety.

Wake, blink it from your mind, and cautiously edge your way back to sleep, ensuring yourself you won’t dream it again.

It’s Day One of a one-and-a-half day-long trip. They’re out of town, looking for a future house. Back tomorrow, of course, but today’s the boys’ day. Dinner comes, a little less gourmet than expected, but it cures hunger. A shower, finish your homework, and dry some dishes, then go upstairs to draw. Cathedral halls in pencil claim the virginity of a new sketchbook, quickly sketched with the illusion of detail.

A sharp crack on the window not three feet from your head scatters your thoughts. What was that? Freak sound of the window, perhaps, or the weather. Before you can relish that calming concept, another sharp crack, the gristly sound of stone on window, at once impacting and scraping and knocking. A third, and now there’s no doubt: someone is throwing stones.

Holler to your brother downstairs, even though you know he’s on the computer: “Are you throwing rocks?” No, of course not, so race downstairs.

Pull the blinds across the glass door before you realize that you’re standing in full view of all three facets of the bay window. Rocks came from the backyard. The bay window faces the backyard. Don’t look out; you might see a face. Oh, god, there’s someone out there.

Brother walks in from computer room, catching the panic. The dog is barking. They could kill the dog. Why isn’t he doing anything? They could be watching you. Do you tell brother to hide upstairs? They can’t reach upstairs unless they enter the house. God, they can’t enter the house.

They’re out of town. Call them for advice? Call for help? You should probably get low to the ground, that way, they can’t see you. You’re in the worst possible point in the house to hide. They can see you. What are they going to do?

Then a warm guitar chord is strummed, and your fears begin, slowly, to melt.



A Bit of Tao


Stale Content Alert!

This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.

I was thumbing through my copy of the Tao Teh Ching today, and I found this. I think it’s an excellent bit of philosophy that’s fallen by the wayside in today’s fast, modern age.

When a man is living, he is soft and supple.

When he is dead, he becomes hard and rigid.

When a plant is living, it is soft and tender.

When it is dead, it becomes withered and dry.

Hence, the hard and rigid belongs to the company of the dead:

The soft and supple belongs to the company of the living.

Therefore, a mighty army tends to fall by its own weight,

Just as dry wood is ready for the axe.

The mighty and great will be laid low;

The humble will be exalted.

(verse 76, tr. John C. H. Wu)

So easy it is to want to plant our feet and remain rigid in our lives. If something comes along and tries to change us, we push and resist and turn stiff as a board, because we feel that’s the way to do things. Unfortunately, resistance only creates conflict, which rarely has a positive outcome for everyone involved.

By remaining “soft and supple” and empowering ourselves to bend and flow, we decrease conflict, which makes things easier. It’s a core principle of the Aikido philosophy: It is more beneficial to use the energy you’re given to blend and find a solution than it is to force your own energy over someone else. Change what you can change. Wiggle what you can wiggle. I’ve seen people get out of some nasty, improbable-looking pins. How? They simply started by moving what they could move. That eventually opened something else up, which led them to their feet. If they had tensed up and tried to brute-force their way out, they never would have made it.

Anyway. Interesting little thing to chew on.

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