Posted on September 21, 2013
Years ago, my Dad and I were sitting in a duck blind in Eastern Oregon prior to dawn and I mentioned how much I wanted to live near the Oregon Coast. The gist of my reasoning was that the Oregon Coast is beautiful, and having water around was comforting.
There is nothing quite like the sight and sound of water; roar of an ocean or babble of brook. The response from my Dad surprised me; he preferred the high desert and mountains…
It was not the first time I have been surprised by such a response, as my ex- felt the same way, where I always envisioned a place on the water, she felt the opposite.
My dad laughed at my incredulous look, and said he loves being at the pond (one of his favorite places on earth), and it is made better because it is located in Eastern Oregon (which is why he chose Pendleton). He also laughed at the situation with my ex-, saying that my Mom’s thought on the subject is also the opposite of his and, like me, she would rather live next to the ocean.
Why I bring this up, is that there is a special connection to water that inspires me, calms me. I will not think twice to pay more for a sea view room, while others cringe at the thought as they do not see the same value: some people can’t believe someone else would pay so much more for a house (or flat) with a water view, while others cannot comprehend why not.
The beauty of differences in human nature.
Among us all, however, is a tremendous respect for water, and it is an inherent respect as we flowed like water from conception onwards. Beyond the most obvious reason that the majority of our body is made up of the stuff, it is the nature of water that intrigues.
Water is pure: two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. It has no desire other than to be itself.
Natural properties that we should emulate.
Water is resilient. Soft yet incredibly strong. An analogy which is often repeated, is how over time water can turn stone into sand with its relentless flow, creating such marvels as the Grand Canyon. Water never ceases in its pursuit of life…it just keeps on flowing, bending when necessary, and without question follows its nature.
My favorite verse from the Dao de Jing is number eight which parallels water with human nature. If I had to summarize the words of this verse it is: be true to who you are, keep it simple and kind, and flow with your work and in life, without expectations, and you will not be disappointed.
Simple thoughts. Whenever life throws something at me, a trip to the coast (or a creek) is all I need to gain perspective.
As with all words of Lao-zi, they are words of poetry…which makes translation by any non-native speaker close to impossible. Below is the Chinese, and an old translation I made 15 years ago with a lot of help.
The greatest good is like water. Nourishing all in our world without effort, flowing to depths we ignore. Water is therefore like the Dao.
In living, be close to the land
In thinking, be simple from the heart
In dealing with others, be kind with sincere words
In politics and business, do not manipulate
In life, be effective and completely present
When you are content being yourself, your flow gains the respect of those around you.
I do remember when I was studying Chinese and the Dao de Jing, I asked many questions about this verse and finally the person I was studying with said the meaning of the verse “is just like a brook in the mountains: travels from high to low, nourishing, sincere, humble and true to itself…and most of all it sounds beautiful if you shut-up and take time to listen.”
Take the time to listen to what the water (and the world) is saying.
Category: China, Dao De Jing, Lao Zi, Philosophy, Photography Tagged: Chinese, Dao de Jing, Laozi, Nature, Tao Te Ching
Posted on April 26, 2013
Traveling to many countries we would consider 3rd world, I am buoyed by the spirit and love for life that I see from people who live day-by-day. The people of Phnom Penh and Cambodia in general were some of the most optimistic and life-loving people I have ever met.
Walking around town, I was amazed at the relative ease in communicating with the locals, even though I only spoke at the very basic level of Cambodian (1-month crash course prior to my trip), and they had very limited – if any – English skills.
After graduating in the USA, I found work managing a bicycle & ski shop which allowed me to pursue two great loves: cycling and working on bicycles (skiing was a 3rd hobby, but clearly took a back seat to cycling). While walking the streets, I met two very energetic and busy guys who had a cycle repair shop on the streets and were very happy to try to explain their work/life/happiness in doing what they did in Phnom Penh. Generally they agreed that: “We are lucky, and we get to travel back home to see our families every year…”
Life is not so much a collection of material goods, but a collection of experiences from which you decide on your happiness. Lao Zi, the author of the Dao de Jing, once wrote (Chapter 44):
Fulfillment does not come from the admiration of other, but with admiration of yourself. When you know when to stop & to love, the whole world belongs to you.
Look into your heart, and decide what is real and what is true. Know when to stop, reassess what is right and then follow your spirit.
Category: Travel in Asia Tagged: cambodia, Laozi, phnom penh, Tao Te Ching