Monday, January 21, 2008

Little scraps and shiny objects

I was watching season 3 of Rescue Me recently, and I found it hilarious that the character of Lou started reading The Tao of Pooh. I like Lou. He's the firefighter who composed poetry to cope with 9/11, and who is bilked by an escort who pretends to love him. He's probably the healthiest character on the show, mental health wise. I have a soft spot for Lou. After he gives the probie a hard time for reading the book, he goes to a book store himself and steals a copy. The book changes his life. I'm always hesitant to recommend books, since reading feels like an intimate thing to me. I also have, well, weird tastes. It gets me in trouble at work, but I manage.

A guy I met about 4 years ago on an online dating site recommended the book to me. He was a construction worker from RI who was working on the then new dorms at Bowdoin College. We never actually met in person, but exchanged a few e-mails. I think I borrowed the book, but eventually went out and bought it so I could underline passages. I still have little scraps of paper marking the sections that really spoke to me. The premise of the book is to explain the principles of Tao through the characters of "Winnie the Pooh." I was skeptical too but it's actually very simple but profound. One of my favorite passages talks about the Uncarved Block, which is hard to describe except Pooh can be defined as being one:
When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun...From the state of the Uncarved Block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work. (Hoff 20-21)
I know, you're wondering if I've renamed my blog the Ponderings of Pollyanna. Don't fear. I've always considered myself an opti-pessimist. Life isn't fun when you have lots of bills, or don't have adequate health care, or you're angry all the time. I was often accused of being childlike but my first husband, but I'm still here, and he isn't. I'm always trying to work toward simplicity, but like starlings I like bright shiny objects.


Patty O said...

Sounds like a cool book. I'll have to check it out!

Leucantha` said...

That last line is too funny!