Deng Ming-Dao on Interaction:
Today’s entry in 365 Tao is about how objects in the world are meaningless until interact with them and project meaning onto them. First thing I thought of was my lost Stetson Stallion black shapeable cowboy hat I purchased in late 2005 and wore until it went missing in early 2016. It has been replaced with a brown Justin hat from Tractor Supply that I have no attachment to, whatsoever. It really was about the history of all the US states the hat had been to, all the people who had their pics taken in my hat (happened all the time), the Joan Jett and New York Dolls buttons, the fish hook hat clip gifted to me by “Uncle Bob” who put the band up when we toured through Albuquerque, New Mexico. They still sell a similar hat and I just read a review on Amazon that claimed the hat is cheaply made and would not last very long. It’s true too. I wore regularly onstage for over 10 years but it was kept alive by spraying with heavy starch for 5 years. I went to a western store asking if they carried a new version of the same hat, and they laughed. “What the hell happened to that hat?” I told them it had been worn for almost a decade. The woman said, “That hat was meant to worn for one season, not ten years!”
As Deng Ming-Dao says:
We make life real
By the thoughts we project.
His point of view reminds me a bit of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism (as I understand it, anyway). We must project meaning onto things (like the cowboy hat) or the world will not be alive or exist for us, at all. We just need to remember that we have given meaning to the objects, and the meaning is subjective. He doesn’t go as far as Sartre with saying “existence is absurd” but the only meaning life has is the meaning we give to it seems like a similar concept.
For another anecdote, my parents moved out of my childhood home in the early 1990s, after having saved for years to purchase their dream home, a very big log cabin home with Cracker Barrel-style decor on rural land. I never really missed our home. As I’ve told people before many times, I don’t really have a sense of “home”. I have lived in many different places and I enjoy traveling far more than being in one place for a long time. So I never missed the house, despite having lived there from birth to age 19. My mother, however, seemed to almost regret moving out of the house almost immediately after the new dream home manifested and they moved in. Sentimental attachment. She tells the story over and over about missing the house, even dreaming about living there again. Then one day, they changed the color of the house to a new color she didn’t like (beige) and the home ceased to have any meaning to her anymore. It became just a house, because it was no longer exactly the way she wanted it to be.
The Daily Stoic:
Today, Holiday talks about moderation with food and drink, and waiting for your turn. Don’t burn in desire for the food or drink, instead enjoying without gluttony and being present while eating. I have a lot of problem with desiring food, alcoholic drinks, and cigarettes. Often, I’m not really enjoying whatever vice or temptation. I’m racing through the drink, puffing away at the smoke, scarfing down, etc. just so I can go on to the next helping. In the last couple of years, I have learned to slow down better with this, but am still working with this as it relates to food, and with my addiction to being entertained or informed at all times with my smartphone.
Well, 50 days, I’m really starting to feel transformed by the book in a lot of ways. I’m learning a lot about my abilities with self-cultivation, but also learning about my limitations. I often felt bad for not finishing what I started at times, or not reaching goals. Looking at the last 50 days, I realize “Wow, actually, there just wasn’t enough time to do everything! Not my fault at all.” More about this later, but with a sneak peak ahead at upcoming topics in the book 365 Tao, there are a lot of helpful ideas coming up soon in the book.