Sunday, July 14, 2013
Zen and the Art of Psychic Maintenance
We had moved to a village called Ryton, close to the Tyne. I was about twelve. Naturally I joined the public library. In the earlier village of my childhood I was taking out adult books. By twelve I had read the vast bulk of the better American crime noir by Chandler, Cheyney, Wallace et all and was now on a lifetime’s cruise through space and time with Sci Fi. Another reason for attending the library regularly was that there was a pretty young librarian and fellow tennis player called Joyce Strong. The library was at the end of a ten minute walk, which included a graveyard.
Anyway, enough of this cursory filling-you-in. Despite Joyce’s undoubted charms, I loved books and was able to leave her at the desk and lose myself among the shelves. One day I succumbed to what Arthur Koestler called The Angel in the Library. For this angel to aid you in your life’s quest, you must clear your mind of trivia and/or a premeditation concerning what you want to read next, and wander with your eyes virtually shut, up and down the aisles. At some point you will open them and be staring at the spine of a tome that will solve a current impasse or help shape your destiny.
I took down a book with Zen in the title. Zen has been my companion since that day. I published a relatively successful little book called An A to Zen of Management (the last few are boxed in my cave here in France) which consists of seventy odd aphorisms to open the minds of business leaders. The woman who illustrated it with Japanese calligraphy is now my son’s wife. My book, Azimuth, has a newly minted Zen aphorism to begin each chapter. Finally, I took to Twitter like a Zen intoxicant, finally finding a medium where the interplay between concise language and infinite thought could become an every day discipline.
So you see, that day in Ryton library when I, the callow youth, took down, unsuspectingly, an obscure collection of writings on paper within board covers, once opened proved to be a portal to my future life.
Abandon what you have lost before you carry it
The impossible is the stillborn child of the unimaginative
Is your life-script the consequence of your authorship or your readership?