I got a massage from Mona today. She made my neck be better. We hung out and watched TV and drank warm things.

10-14-2002 20:26 <berto> last time the giants were in the series, there was a big ass earthquake.

Today's news:

So you've had these times. I know you have, everyone has. You're boxed in somehow. You can't leave your job, your relationship, your home. You have no options, you see no way out. You bash your head against the walls of your life until your forehead bleeds, but much like real walls, it only hurts you.

I've seen a theme in this over the past few weeks, as I've felt much the same way. But this is the 40th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, which we studied pretty thoroughly in my intro government class. The primary thing that avoided nuclear war, I think, was that Kennedy gave Kruschev a way out. Rather than saying "You will remove those missiles unconditionally or we will attack you", he publicly said "You will remove those missiles", and through diplomatic backchannels added "Look, neither of us wants a war, but the US can't be seen to back down; remove the missiles, and in a few months we'll take our missiles out of Turkey, which is fine because you hate them and we know they're obsolete". There was some back and forth, but in the end the deal was done on a handshake. Kruschev got American missiles out of Turkey, and the US got Soviet nukes out of the Western Hemisphere. Everybody saved face, everybody got something. No one got boxed into a corner where their only option was to hit the Big Unpleasant Red Button.

When I first started reading looking for a religion that made sense to me inasfar as it helped me understand my experience of the world (Christianity didn't make sense; it still doesn't, but I've since learned that's not the point), I read some stories of Chuang-tzu, the Chinese Taoist sage who came after Lao-tzu. The Tao Te Ching, the book attributed to Lao-tzu (who may or may not have existed), is an oblique, obscure mystical work, and it's unlikely you could learn anything from it that you didn't already understand one way or another. The Chuang-tzu, on the other hand (ancient Chinese literature tends to be named after its attributed author, and if I recall correctly Chuang-tzu is a documented personage), is a collection of mostly stories, parables and fables (with some oblique verse thrown in, maybe as a nod to Lao-tzu). One of my all-time favorites:

One day in the village a horse went mad in the street, kicking and biting anyone who came close, so that no one could get by. A crowd gathered in the blocked street, as people tried to pass the horse and got kicked for their trouble. In desperation the villagers sought out the local sage--surely he, the wisest, could find a solution if anyone could.

The master looked down the street at the horse, paused for a moment, and walked down the next street.

In aikido we learn how to move in circles, to deflect energy, to step around an incoming force rather than into it. You cannot panic, cannot be overtaken by fear that there is this force coming RIGHT AT YOU, cannot think that you have no choice, that you have to act right at this very moment with the first thing that comes to mind.



You need to act, but a panicked response is almost invariably inappropriate. Sit still for a moment. Stop fidgeting. Focus on your breath coming in. Deep, into your diaphragm, fill your lungs from the bottom up.

Now your breath coming out. Just the breath, the air flowing--the sound, the taste, the feeling.

Stay thoughtful and aware and centered. The box you feel trapped in is probably composed of a bunch of things you think need to be dealt with immediately. Is that really the case? Are there some decisions you can put off? Boundaries that can be or need to be drawn? Do these pressing issues need to be tackled for you, or because someone else says so? See if you can find some room to maneuver, something you don't have to do right now. Keep your balance and act carefully.

Sometimes the box is real. Remember to breathe, anyway; remember that you will not always be where you are now. It doesn't necessarily help when it hurts, but might when you have a moment to come up for air and you start to look at the bigger picture.

Move around and with the forces coming at you, not through.