The Empty Cup

Method or Madness?

As you probably know by now, I write from the seat of my pants. I don't plan this newsletter over the course of the week past. I wonder if I should even call it a newsletter. State of the Union Address? What do you think? If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

I do have a method to my madness, though it may seem more madness than method. I lazily bask in the experience of passing time but when Monday comes, I'm compelled to write. That doesn't sound like much of a process right? On the contrary. Let's dig deeper.

"You should write about this!" said Aman Dhesi animatedly while on a call we'd setup a week ago. This was our first time talking, yet we resonated on this point. I had been describing my 'retirement' to him through this quote.

The usefulness of a cup is in its emptiness - Bruce Lee

The Emptiness

What I had filled in the cup since the last 40 years of my life was not me, the cup. It was merely a collection of experiences, assets and identities. By dropping everything I'd collected, I was not less than what I was before. I was however free to refill it with whatever I chose. What's more, I don't have to throw away what I collect. I can give it away. I can share from my cup and therein lies the usefulness of my cup. I've been growing more satisfied with my decision to empty myself. It's a sense of vacuum that excites me rather than scare me. You'd think the stillness is unnerving and unconfortable. After all, how many times have we hurried through awkward pauses in conversation? And that's why the incessant interruptions of the Internet offer solace to loneliness.

Can you imagine if the Covid pandemic had struck us and we were confined to our homes without Internet access? Well, I can and I did. For the 1st month, I swore off books, podcasts, movies & music. I woke up every morning and walked to the garden. The birds chirped curiously. I wonder if they were signing a chorus to celebrate. Is that hubris to think so or am I being an arsehole for not singing back to them?

Regardless, the fact that I could hear them, is because I didn't have music blaring in my ears. I stared at the empty pages of my book and wondered what to do? I felt stupid. Silly even as I sipped my black coffee laced with potent himalayan chilli. This kind of concoction doesn't just wake you up. It sets your soul on fire and you soar like a hot air balloon. I had no where to go, no course to chart. I just spent hours adrift staring at the emptiness of the pages before me. I didn't even feel compelled to create something of the emptiness. But I did. The pen meandered languidly across the course texture, breaking into a frenzie when I'd least expect it, only to spiral back to slothlike ease.

The Cup

I'd spent days floating in that limbo like state. Was I sad or was I happy? Was I suffering lonelines or was I rejoicing in solitude? I didn't have an answer to these questions, I thought. But the answer was writ on my face for all to see. A beatific smile, the likes of which I hadn't ever seen. A spring in my step despite limping on crutches.

I wasn't sad that I was hobbling on one leg, with the other dangling in a metallic brace. Not in the least bit disappointed that I could no longer flail my legs with unerring precision. I couldn't think of tripping an unsuspecting opponent and rolling around on the mat in a dance of dominance. Yet, here I was excited! I had a new toy to discover a new pattern of movement with. You wouldn't call a pair of crutches, toys, would you? But if you had witnessed the silly glint in my eyes as I hurtled around at what was surely a break knee speed, if not break neck.

I'd spent days floating in that limbo like state. Was I sad or was I happy? Was I suffering lonelines or was I rejoicing in solitude? I didn't have an answer to these questions, I thought. But the answer was writ on my face for all to see. A beatific smile, the likes of which I hadn't ever seen. A spring in my step despite limping on crutches.

I wasn't sad that I was hobbling on one leg, with the other dangling in a metallic brace. Not in the least bit disappointed that I could no longer flail my legs with unerring precision. I couldn't think of tripping an unsuspecting opponent and rolling around on the mat in a dance of dominance. Yet, here I was excited! I had a new toy to discover a new pattern of movement with. You wouldn't call a pair of crutches, toys, would you? But if you had witnessed the silly glint in my eyes as I hurtled around at what was surely a break knee speed, if not break neck.

Not only movement, my diet was restricted. Having opted out of surgery (for reasons I won't dwell on here), I needed to take the most delicate and diligent care of my food intake. I didn't balk at the exacting portions, the specific constituents, the litres of vegetable juices. I went about it with a nonchalant manner reserved for brushing teeth. I chose to allow this constraint to cater to cheating on another diet I was on. So during every meal, I'd allow myself the whimsical luxury of a silly sitcom. Mind you, it had to be a silly one. No subtle or sophisticated humour. No murder mystery. No documentary claimed to lay bare the secrets of the universe. I would only watch something so stupidly certain of making me laugh, choke even on my food.

Is your cup Empty or Full?

It's been over 4 months now since I've been experimenting thus. I have no operational businesses. I have no plans for the future. My mobility is on the fringe with an injury that may never full heal. There's a fat sack where there was once a six pack. I'm 7 kilos over my usual 60. But if you've been interacting with me over the last few months, you'd have witnessed a child-like joy and enthusiasm with no hint or remorse. What's the secret?

Is it the vastness of the empty space that is my life today? The emptiness of the cup, that makes it so light.

Is it the narrow constraints of my current circumstances? The very cup that creates a constraint for the infinite experience to adhere to.

Be water, my friend.
Empty your mind.
Be formless, shapeless, like water.
You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup.
You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle.
You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.
Now water can flow or it can crash.
Be water, my friend.

If I'm an empty cup, and water enters, becomes the cup, then am I now water? As you juggle this koan, I'll celebrate yet another succesful newsletter. Tell me now, was this a method or was this madness?


Until next Monday folks. DM me on Twitter, if you want to connect.
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