Wandering & Wondering

The past year has been difficult for most of us, bringing with it a lot of losses: sleepless nights, worries, stress, financial shortfalls, and so on… We are left with the question: what does the future hold for us?

Let’s stay positive. The mind is the root from which all things grow, so monitor your state of mind. A mind at ease and quiet is a mind at peace. An unattached mind is the gateway to tranquility and happiness☺. It is not always easy to attain this state. I wish I were able to heed this advice, and that my restless mind could let go and give me peace, but it just keeps churning up the mud.

This may all sound like some mumbo-jumbo, right? It all requires a lot of time to digest, otherwise one can end up with constipation—just throwing some humor into the mix. Over many years, I have heard much advice and listened to many teachings. Now (especially during this time of crisis), I am starting to grasp the importance of those lessons, as I gradually harvest their benefits. Slowly, things are becoming clearer.

We may plan and devise, but eventually heaven decides; things cannot be rushed.

The lessons need to be learned, just as the ‘way’ has to be followed, and then we will be fine.

How have I been dealing with stress and managing my time? Instead of sitting around and getting all cramped up, I stay busy and get to work.

Every year at the dojo, the students and I make a banner representing the figure featured in the Chinese zodiac for that year. One of our senior students usually runs around getting all the materials required to make the banner. We then gather to cut, assemble, and glue the pieces of the banner together. The banners are quite imposing and decorative, and we hang them from the ceiling, in sequence, all around the dojo. The first banner we made was the Dragon. This year is the year of the Ox, and since we could not gather safely in the dojo, we have not created our banner. However, one of the projects that has kept me busy has been to paint a scene with oxen, for the dojo.

I also made myself a schedule, and try my best to stick to it. It is not cast in stone, so it is quite flexible. I get up early, around six-thirty. Getting up is going to get easier and happen earlier and earlier, as I tend to wake up with the sun. I then have my breakfast and go to the dojo.

Once there, it is first things first. I start with about an hour of exercises, that is, our regular warm-ups, Tai Chi, and various katas. I have also begun incorporating kicks and punches. I have got to keep myself in shape for when we will all start practicing together again. The hardest exercise for me is the chin-ups. I am slowly building up to ten repetitions, but if I miss a couple of days, the count goes back down. It is so tempting to go easy on myself sometimes.

Then I sit down at the table for some personal development and continuous learning. I polish my Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese. I have being doing that for quite a few years now, but my memory is not keeping up. Progress is going slooowly. I am not that great a student, not studious enough. I have set up my work place on the tatami in the dojo.

I am also doing some art, learning more techniques and practicing my water colour and acrylic painting skills. I often refer to the experts teaching on Youtube. They are very helpful☺

After my exercises and my continuing development, I go on to less demanding, more fun things. I tend to my plants and toil/loiter away in the backyard doing some gardening or just staring into space, my so-called meditation. I might just sit around and watch my rocks grow.

Here are some things to keep in mind during this pandemic:

First, ‘No-one is an island’. If I need help or advice, or if I am stuck with a problem, I turn to my friends and family for help. Sometimes just talking about my stress, my concerns, my worries, etc., will help them all to dissipate. I try to avoid holding things in. It’s always possible to talk with someone and find a solution. It is also good to move on and not dwell on the problem.

Second, I make it a point to eat nutritious foods to not compromise my health. It is better to eat food as medicine now than to eat medicine as food later. A proper diet is fundamental. There are lots of guidelines to help us navigate along this path… ‘the truth is out there..’

“Junk food” is great: it tastes good and is easily available. But have you ever wondered why? The companies that manufacture and market those products know that they are not beneficial to their customers’ health and can even be harmful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could just change or tweak the recipes a little so that people could eat healthful foods? Both sides would benefit in the long run.

Am I expecting too much? Remember, not too long ago people were hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Never, ever, could I have imagined that people would end up fighting for toilet paper. I understand the necessity, of course, but it was panic-buying, triggered by misinformation, or ignorance, or fear. There was actual fighting for products in the aisles of the stores—out the window went our humanity and consideration for others. We witnessed a lack of critical thinking and a failure to see the whole picture. Hind sight is always perfect, isn’t it? But did we learn from those incidents, or have we already forgotten?

This virus, together with the new variances/mutants, represents a reality that we cannot escape or ignore. We all have to sit down, learn how to work together, and face these invisible opponents together. We have to help one another and cooperate. This is a global issue facing humanity, and we are not safe until everyone is safe.

Our political leaders often stress the importance of economic development and of not holding back businesses. Yes, the economy is important, but to what extent? Could the tendency to place a higher value on material things be misdirected? Is it an elusive pursuit? Does a big figure in a bank account represent or guarantee wealth or security? Or is that an illusion? Haha! Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind having a big account, but in the long run, I think that greed contributes to the problems of sickness and poverty in society. As we saw with the hoarding of toilet paper, fear and panic can cause shortages and deprive others. However, such behavior is supposed to be great for the economy: increased production and consumption equals more jobs.

We need to share more, so all will be happier and enjoy a degree of well-being. The biggest and most valuable lesson we could and should all learn from this invisible virus is that we have to corporate and work together to win the war against it.

This is not only the third wave, but could also be our Third World War!!
Life matters!!
Be Cheerful!!