Slack

A wheel has spokes,
but it rotates around a hollow center.

A pot is made out of clay or glass,
but you keep things in the space inside.

A house is made of wood or brick,
but you live between the walls.

We work with something,
but we use nothing.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 11, as interpreted by Ron Hogan

Somewhere along the way I abandoned nothing. Just sitting left me feeling like I should be doing something. Not doing something turned into reading fragments of a thousand different thoughts spilled online. When I eat I don’t simply eat; I watch sitcoms.

Slack is sacred to me, and when I think of how fidgety I become after a half an hour of massage, or of reading a book, I realize that somewhere I set slack aside. I began interpreting non-productive activities as slack, not seeing that slack is productive. Pouring all of my attention into an album or a book feeds me, yet I put on an album and have it playing in the background while I do something non-productive on my computer far more often than I put one on and just listen. (Right now I’m listening to Biosphere’s Substrata while I write, and if ever there was a headphones-in-the-dark album, it’s this one.) I just got up from reading on the futon to come to my computer because I wanted to see what I might be missing.

I don’t know how to move back toward embracing slack. How to move away from leisure and into calm. But I will find a way. I think getting back on my bicycle will help. I think going someplace, sitting and smoking my pipe will help. I think lying down with my headphones on will help. I just have to make myself do it.

I miss nothing.