“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ; Wade–Giles: Lao Tzu)
This trip will be like no other trip I’ve taken. To start with, I don’t know where I’m going. Normally, not a good idea as the old saying warns: If you don’t have a destination in mind you can wind up anywhere. And I guess that is my goal-to wind up anywhere.
All my life I’ve had goals and destinations, plotted things: college, jobs, cars, motorcycles, trips, kids’ education, holidays. Other times, I’ve been resident in some place, hunkered down and on the annual treadmill calendar of events there. New Years, St Patrick’s day, Easter, 4th of July, Labor day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Work, parties, meals, football, baseball and baseball coaching, soccer, basketball and hockey. Taking care of myself, my relatives, my children. One can live one’s life out on this treadmill, not altogether unpleasantly. Along with the death and separations that inevitably come along there are the births and the new beginnings. The revivals of hope.
My buddy Jeff can’t be on this trip with me because he has a new beginning, as of yesterday. He’s a grandfather now for the first time. It’s a girl and dad gum is he proud.
But every now and then I ask myself: What if I did something different? And I don’t mean just taking a class in watercolors or tai chi at the local community college ( both of which I’ve done!). What if I put myself in new places, different places, where I had no plan, where I didn’t have the security of routine, the family and work responsibilities, the usual contours of escapes, distractions and pleasures?
So that’s what I’m going to do. I know I need to be out in LA (not lower Alabama!) by the 12th of June (and today is Monday the 12th of May) but I can ramble any which a way, as long as it’s generally west, to get there. So I’m not going to plan the trip, book the motels. I’m going to get out on the road and see what happens. Have to admit it’s a bit scary. But all true adventures have an element of peril in them.
So what’s going to guide me?
I plan to mix a bit of Taoism and Zen with whatever jams I get myself thrown into.
The Tao (Chinese: 道; pinyin: dào) is a Chinese philosophy and literally means “way” or “path”, but it also signifies a cosmic order of things; that in life there is an underlying flow, rhythm and balance. To follow the Tao means to tune into the rhythms we find in nature, ourselves and those we meet on our road.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Zen is a very popular word that’s thrown around rather loosely. (I have been known to do that!) For the record it refers to a type of Buddhism which relies on meditation as a way to enlightenment.
Derek Lin describes some of the qualities of Zen
“…the closest we can come to describing Zen in words may be as follows:
• Zen is more of an attitude than a belief.
• Zen is the peace that comes from being one with an entity other than yourself.
• Zen means being aware of your oneness with the world and everything in it.
• Zen means living in the present and experiencing reality fully.
• Zen means being free of the distractions and illusory conflicts of the material world.
• Zen means being in the flow of the universe.
• Zen means experiencing fully the present, and delighting in the basic miracle of life itself.”
So I’m getting ready to hit the road. One more day of gathering things, packing and saying goodbye should do it.
I’ll be Taoheading and Zenheading come this Wednesday morning.
Follow me on my journey! I’ll keep blogging now and then, Tao and Zen.