Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wu Wei

Nondoing. Action without action. The phrase is in William Powers book Twelve by Twelve, and it is not the first time I've seen or heard the words. I understand the concept a little more now. Powers' cabin owner has a mantra she practices: see, be, do. Seeing is an acquired skill. Robert Heinlein had Fair Witness characters in his novels. If you asked one what is the color of that house in the distance? the Fair Witness would reply it is white on this side. She would not assume the other three, nor comment on the color. I am learning to see. Like the white space in a painting, there are stories to be told in seeing well. Being is a life's work; to be still and absorb. I can only be still when I am walking at speed - I am a rookie being stiller. My mind jabbers until I notice my lungs laboring, my heart pulsing, and then my mind shuts up. Probably checking for vital signs, at my age. Do is the last word in the mantra. We are a nation of doers. We labor harder for unseen corporate enterprises to increase productivity and profits, and to give us the lucre to shop, and work more. We're well trained. And untraining is the labor of the last quarter of life. Do is what I'm redefining. For myself, not for others. I am learning to see: body language, truth, sustainability. I am learning to be: still, contemplative, appreciative, grateful. I will learn to do: act when what is seen and how it is being can be improved for the highest good, in balance and harmony. While I learn, there is wu wei.

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