Tao 11/Day 276 “We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”

“We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”  After such a mild winter, I’m surprised to see the smattering of snow and hail that floats past my springtime window today.  Nevertheless, I bundle up and head to the lakes – only to find the sun magically out in force again, and the temperature perfect for short sleeves.  “Only on an island” I smile to myself…Shuffling along for the first few hundred yards until I’m warmed up, I somehow quickly manage to find a gear I haven’t used in quite awhile, and take off.  My lungs prove to be a match for my legs, and I cover the first half of the territory in record time…I’m so into the run that I barely notice the white stuff that has started falling around me again.  When I finally do, it is with a dreamy, appreciative reverie.  “That’s not precipitation – those are cherry blossoms the wind is tossing from the trees to the trail in honor of my efforts!  What a mistake to have once thought it was only hail.”  I laugh at the limits of my powers of observation, and keep flying around the rest of the magic path until I’ve finished a really fast first lap.  Slowing to a brief walk, I down some water and a Cliff bar, hungry for more…Not two kilometers in to my second time around, and the weather suddenly shape-shifts again.  The temperature drops considerably, the white stuff fills the air – and this time I’m shocked out of my previous reverie and into a recognition that it really is indeed hail and not cherry blossoms that are falling.  How did I get it so wrong before?  Tiny sharp beads of ice start stinging my noggin and bouncing off my glasses into my eyes.  My oneness with the task-at-hand vanishes, I’m cold and growing wetter, and I’ve still got two-thirds of a lake-lap left to traverse.  As I struggle to find a way now to simply finish, an insight struggles to find a way to the surface of my consciousness…Ever since Don Quixote, western ‘impossible dreamers’ have been ‘tilting at windmills’ – ie – trying to project onto a changing, increasingly complex, scientific/empirical reality a sense of story that gives humanity a place in the universe equal to our past sense of preeminence.  But the truth of what we now observe far surpasses our previous attempts to maintain such a ranking.  Some say that that fact is in itself the new story — that the former position we told ourselves we occupied in the universe was ultimately no more than ego and hubris, keeping us from seeing things as they really are.  – Yet the need for the former type of story persists.  Why?  Because it seems that that is still ultimately what makes the ‘inner spaces’ of our individual experiences ‘livable’.  When I was running under a shower of falling cherry blossoms it was effortless.  Running in a hailstorm was nearly unbearable – and ego and hubris were mostly absent from both.  No matter what kind of house ‘out there’ that we discover and build toward, our inner spaces still resonate with imagination as much as observation…I can’t fathom a time when ‘The Stories We Tell Ourselves To Make Our Inner Space Livable” won’t be just as necessary as scientific experiments designed to help us understand more than the four percent of this universe we currently comprehend.  – For can we really live for long – especially with each other — without an inner story that matches our outer observations?  Can we really last without the laws of physics being infused with the love of the Tao (which the Tao te Ching claims “is in the very nature of things” – Stanza 51)?…We may ‘do’ science to find out how the universe works, but we ‘do’ imagination to connect our experience of ourselves to that universe.  By equally cultivating our ability to both observe and imagine, we stimulate the energy of appreciation – the most life-enhancing vibration there is…As I dig down and find the imagination/inspiration to finish today’s run, I’m left to wonder, “What kind of house are we building?  – And are we imagining enough space within ourselves to make it livable?”

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One Response to “Tao 11/Day 276 “We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.””

  1. Cool Springs TN Says:

    Great post. I enjoyed reading it on this rainy day in Nashville.

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