I wrote the other day about the way people look at the world and the fact that things basically are just a construct of your human brain squeezing them into a box and slapping a label on them (‘you don’t know what an apple is’). No sooner do I write this, than I get to experience it firsthand: thanks to my new arch enemy – the letter ‘G’.
Naming is the origin of all particular things
The first verse of the Tao Te Ching is a pretty good taste of what’s coming: it’s confusing, and full of contradiction. Like a riddle, wrapped up in another riddle, wrapped up in a piece of translated Chinese poetry. The first time I read it I thought it was a bit boring and didn’t get what it was about. Now I’ve thought about it though – I think it’s immense. Possibly one of the most mindbendingly profound things you could ever think about. Here’s my take on it all…
Out of all those words the thing that I think is most interesting is that “naming is the origin of all particular things”. Bear with me if I get a bit wordy here, this is big stuff I’m trying to figure out. And my brain isn’t that powerful 🙂 Anyway… what I think is:
Naming something and quantifying it inherently means confining it, putting it in a box, limiting it. Squeezing it into a shape that you think fits but which really doesn’t.
The name you give something, even the concept your brain uses to think about it, is not ‘it’. It’s not the essence of it, it’s just an oversimplified label you’ve stuck on it to allow your limited human brain to use it.
You don’t know what an apple is. Seriously. You think you do. But you don’t.
This blog is not about religion, It’s about life – my life. about my attempt to live it well and to give it some meaning and about all the things that make that so hard. About two years ago I started to feel like my life was on rails, that I was sleepwalking through it and achieving nothing. I commuted 3 hours a day to a job that I hated, whilst back home were the wife and kids I never saw, living in the giant mortgage-shaped black hole that was our house. Grumpy and resentful, each grindingly pointless day was making me numb – until one day I just couldn’t take it any more and realised: I needed to change my life…
Only how do you do that? Basically what I just described is the normal life of a lot of men and women my age. I’m not young and carefree, I can’t just go off backpacking for a year and ‘find myself’, I can’t throw in my job and start a world inspiring internet company in my garage or join the peace corps or become an actor/astronaut/fighter pilot/superhero/tennis champion. I’m a 32 year old guy with bills to pay and a job that… well basically it’s about the only thing I know how to do. So assuming the external bits of my life just stay the same, what can i change? How do you find meaning in an ordinary life?