My holiday greeting this year was for each day to bring a tessera of joy to the bigger picture. Ah, to know a score of other people's beautiful life-landscapes - to look beyond moments of muddiness to the overall picture: after a person has been made relevant; relieved from the bad times. The effort to become a bas-relief to the selfish is beautiful. A thoughtful life is as beautiful as Art.
I have also been thinking a lot recently about how my own bigger picture is not something I can see in my mind. I have been noticing how aggressive some people are to realise their picture of life: they make boxes marked "junk" to contain that which is not relevant to their ambition.
I like the word "junk" because it may have first been only applied to ships (refuse from ships), and ships are made for journeys. Not everyone accepts life (the journey) for what it is - though since life is what it is, there often comes a time when people change, to become less rigid.
Life is a most exciting journey: we do not know how our lives will turn out. Lao Tzu writes that we cannot reach the kingdom by our own toil: to attempt to do so is to destroy it, "Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, easy indulgence." (29) The picture is to be gained, not made. When I read these passages, I often marvel at how there is a cross-cultural wisdom, and even though some concepts (like "emptiness" or "kingdom") have local meanings, I wonder if - like fairy tales - these meanings shifted through time in an attempt to reach the local audience in a language they understood. Because the language is to serve, and as a servant, it must be submissive. Many are the kings who have been sold into slavery.
And so it is that an entire culture can lose sight of what is important. The slave, who is really a king, is thrown into a box. And the gift of each new day, wrapped in its package - at least since Victorian times (thought the symbolism of hiding is quite potent) - is tossed in that box, too. And we continue to tell lies that will motivate our excessive labour - when the truth is, we would not be so desperate for certain results if we understood the true nature and purpose of work.
The Humanities can solve the problem of work. If people ask: why bother reading books in this day and age when you could be learning IT, the answer is: how can you afford to learn IT before studying the humanities? This is your life, it is meant to be a thing of beauty.
That is my idea of the thoughtful union: to articulate all the parts of life, so that there are no sicknesses of the Chinese kind, where the circulation stops and health deteriorates. Rather, to unwrap each piece from the newspaper of the day, and see the depth of promise of that ideogram. ...Part of this idea came from Ghosh's blog On Blogging - I was once part of the admin Faculty Search that led to his hiring at one institution, and it is fascinating to me how other people's lives can become so distant to us, and then so close (post via). The bigger picture of our lives can become clarified in most unexpected ways. The way to clarify a muddy pond is to let it come to rest of its own accord. (15)