The problem with the zen philosophy is the constancy of the fluidity. Always ready to accept what comes, always ready to live in the exact present moment, enjoying *now*, rather than *then*, either forward or backward.
There is a zen story about the man who is hanging by a weakening branch with a hungry tiger pacing on the cliff above him and another hungry tiger pacing below him, and then he looks to his left and sees the reddest strawberry growing out of a crack in the rock. He plucks it and, my! what a delicious strawberry!
Grasping onto The Zen Living
Grasping onto zen living at the moment just every now and then, this can sometimes be easy. But hanging forever and forever, the branch never breaking, the strawberries keep the man fed, after a while, he just gets bored. Maybe he lets go or climbs up just to be eaten and be done with it.
I spent a melancholy hour reading over my notecard journal from high school and early college, where I half the time left out the names and details in favor of the overall concept. It seems my life is a neverending tessellation of the same events over and over, the same longings and waitings for future rewards. This should tell me to quit. I’ve already wanted this, got it maybe, lost it, and here I am again. I’ll get it again, I’ll lose it again, I’ll be satisfied and then not, over and over, and wishing or fearing one or the other won’t change what the present is.
But that realization pales in the face of what I long for. Just out of reach, beckoning and mocking, how can I look at something so close to me, if only in my head, that seems yet again like THE answer, and still be satisfied to sit down to another evening of cutting fabrics into triangles and rectangles and sewing them into wearable compilations, changing color formatting from RGB into CMYK on file after file, lifting weights in rep after rep, washing the same dishes every other evening. Repetitive tasks that should bring me serenity and connection to my environment, like Siddhartha and the ferryman traveling back and forth across the river day after day. I keep thinking, “If I only had this thing, I could handle everything else.” Sometimes I know that’s beside the point, but in zen, sometimes doesn’t cut it. As with the Zen master who was asked by another master when it started to rain, “Did you leave your umbrella next to your wooden shoes?” and had to look down to realize that he was WEARING his wooden shoes, zen is in every moment. Satisfaction comes from the steady interaction with rectangles and triangles, or it comes not at all with even a moment’s perfect interaction with your ultimate desire.
But sometimes, every few triangles or so, I want something besides triangles. And though I know it’s probably this dissatisfaction that keeps throwing me into another dissatisfying tessellation of repeating crap, sometimes I can’t bring myself to love the triangles.