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Bellows

Can not the space between heaven and earth be compared to a bellows?

It empties itself, yet it does not lose its vigor;
If moved again, and behold, it expels air once more.
A lot of talk, to rapid exhaustion we see lead;
Guard your inner self, and keep it free.

— From the Tao Te Ching, part 5

The hard thing is not to write every day. Anyone can write, just as anyone can speak. The hard part is to hit the keys (or open your mouth) and make something worthwhile come out. “Idle writing” is where many stumble.

The writer has to expose his or her inner self. They risk being misunderstood, or sometimes even worse: being fully understood, and judged inadequate. But to do anything else? That’s idle writing.

New Year’s resolutions

New Year’s resolutions… That has to be one of the prime clichés, right? Ah, of course, there is an even bigger cliché: the resolution that remains unfulfilled year on year. 

That doesn’t mean that it’s silly to take resolutions. It is better to have a goal and fail than not to have one.

Of course, if you’re going to make a resolution, better to try and create conditions that give you some chance of fulfilling it. These conditions are not always obvious, and they certainly will not be the same for everyone.

I knew a girl who made her New Year’s decisions not at the end of the year like everyone else, but on her birthday. For her, that was when the year began. I thought it was a deliciously egocentric attitude, but if it worked for her, who am I to argue?

That’s not to say that you’ll find similar success, but who knows? You might. I wrote my resolutions on a pocket notepad a couple of days ago while waiting for a friend at a café. At the time I didn’t even think of them as New Year’s resolutions, I was just thinking about things I would like to do / change. But then I became aware that it was December.  A year is a convenient span of time to measure goals, so why not?

Truth be told, it is difficult to gain practice in something that  you only do once a year. If you only write your objectives once a year, it follows that you won’t achieve them. You probably don’t even have a good idea of ​​what is achievable.

So now is a good time to start practicing for the end of the year. And then in January, that might be a good time to review them! And so on…

Mathematics

Yesterday I watched a documentary about Israel’s secret services. It struck me how the successive leaders of the organization, all in favor of peace and dialogue even with the most inflexible enemies, become immediately calculating when lives are at stake.

The leader of a terrorist cell is inside a building with his family. There’s a missile trained on them. But there is the matter of the neighbourhood. It’s an inhabited neighbourhood. There is a risk that innocent people will lose their lives.

“How many?” That’s the question these men ask. What are they trying to determine? They are trying to understand if today’s innocent victims will be more or less than the number of innocents that future terrorist attacks may claim.

It is a given that innocents will die – fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. The question is: will pulling the trigger kill less today than would die tomorrow?

Its math.