Monday, May 21, 2012

The Moments After Motion: Rabbit on a Leash

The other day, I got off of the treadmill and it felt like the floor under my feet was moving. You know the feeling? Or, did you ever sit at the back of a train and watch the track moving away from you toward the vanishing point? When the train stops, it appears that the track is still  moving slowly into the distance.

In both of these cases, the temporary state of being (in this case, motion) becomes sort of absorbed by our minds and bodies. Somewhere inside, the little dudes who run the machine in our brains say, "Okay -- we're moving. This is the way it is going to be. Time to internalize and react the current situation. Flip all necessary switches." Then, when it changes (the train stops, for instance) the little guys who just sat down to rest sigh and get back up again, "Reset switches, fellows!" But it takes a little time, so, the ground feels like its moving or the tracks look like they are moving away. Just until the switches get flipped again.

Lao Tzu
Lately, I have been on the literal treadmill, as mentioned above. I have also been on the figurative treadmill: busy at work; busy at home (both sons in the thick of activities with karate and baseball); busy with music (the band had been playing a lot); busy with a million other responsibilities... But the big thing has been that I found myself putting in days that ran from 6 AM to 8:30 PM, or beyond, before I could sit and breathe.

Then, one night, baseball practice was canceled. There was no karate. Band rehearsal was called off. I came home from school at around four o'clock and had nowhere to go and nothing pressing to do.

And what happened? Mr. Solitude; Mr. Self-reflection; Mr. Creative (who never has enough time for his arts) found himself pacing around the house for a few minutes, feeling stir-crazy. Me. After all my yapping about the joys of solitude and the quest for the time enough to enjoy it, I found myself feeling like a rabbit on a leash.

I'd stepped off of the treadmill and the floor was still moving. I felt the need to be running around and busy. The little guys inside my head had flipped the appropriate switches. I was in a mode that I hate seeing in so many of the people around me, especially the ones who brag about not being "the type to sit still." I was in a mode that is not me.

And this is what bugs me about being part of the world: It will change you when you're not paying attention.

One has to know who he is and one has to push back. There's no other way to keep from getting lost in the maze. So, I read the Tao Te Ching for awhile, and the little guys running my brain flipped the switches:

The five colors blind the eyes
The five tones deafen the ear
The five flavors dull the palate
Racing, hunting, and galloping about only disturb the mind
Wasting energy to obtain rare objects only impede's one's growth 
So the Sage is lead by his inner truth and not his outer eye.
He holds to what is deep and not what lies on the surface.


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