Random thoughts

Recently I had my son install some foam board insulation under the flooring of my mudroom which has been at one time part of the porch outside of the kitchen door. You see, we expanded the kitchen by tearing out the partition that separated it from the small mud room and pantry making for one large entry way in which you could take off your boots and hang your coat.

He tore this picture away from the poorly insulated wall. It is from a 1914 newspaper. It is Winston Churchill. The headlines tell of the allied victories taking place in France against the German war machine. Of course this made me think of my father's involvement and eventual p.o.w. status during the second world war.

Do we ever stop killing each other and fighting for one cause or one country against another?

The answer is, "No."

Then I thought of this story from an old Taoist sage;

It seems there was a man who came upon a "stinktree" on his property. Looking up to its tangle of leaves and branches, his first impression was, "This tree is truly ugly. The leaves look like they have blight and the thing bears no fruit at all." He considered for a moment whether he might be able to cut the tree down and use it for building material. But as he scanned the branches he could not find a length of limb that wasn't gnarled, and impossibly distorted. He reached up and plucked down a leaf, tasted it and instantly spat it out. This thing was only good for shade but not even nice enough to sit under. "Useless! Absolutely Useless!" he thought as he turned his back on the tree and walked away. After he’d walked a bit he turned for one more look and noticed that this tree, sitting alone on the hillock, was by far the largest tree on his property. It had been there long before he was born and would probably be there when his grand children were playing. Suddenly it struck him. The life of the tree was insured by its uselessness. No ax would ever chop it. No carpenter would ever build with it. No one could gain anything by it so it was allowed to live and thrive and be itself without interference.
Uselessness, he realized, could be very useful.

What are your thoughts?
Is it of any value to "get involved?" To make a difference in the world? To "fight" for any cause?
Is the Lion becoming too passive in his middle years?
I am reminded of the simplicity of the concept of Taoist tale that states; if we desire to help the world, we must begin with helping our country; if we desire to help our country, we must first start with helping our community; if we want to help the community, we must begin with helping our family; if we want to help our family, we must begin with ourselves. How often do people sink into a sense of Nationalism and reverse the wisdom of this proverb?
I like the concept of thinking globally and acting locally but I have lost, over time, all sense of boundaries as to where and how far my responsibilities lie. The Masons have a phrase that states, "If it is within the length of your cable toe," which means the scope of a man's reasonable ability.
And this suits me fine.


jess said…
merry christmas, tim. best of EVERYTHING to you and yours and those damn cute grandkids of yours.

Bert said…
Happy holidays, Tim!

As you know, I live in Belgium and we've had the pleasure of dealing twice in a World War. An ancester of mine was a general during WOI. During the second one, my grandfather was POW.

Has it taught us anything? Nope
Tim said…
Thanks Jess...I wish the best for you and yours. I ALWAYS appreciate it when you come by.
WAR!!! What is it good for? Damn Bert! I guess that it an inevitable part of life for This Being Human...
Bert said…
it is good for those who cash the bill afterwards, pushing the poor even further in their hole, while enlarging the wealth of the "Have-Lots"

F*cked up world, Tim, a f*cked up world idd
I have a book titled Zhuangzi Speaks which is in the form of a comic book. It contains a couple of parables about useful vs. useless. The one I like best is called "The Useless Shue Tree" which Zhuangzi points out that although the tree is gnarled and bumpy rendering it useless as wood for building material, it survives for many years-- unlike the straight trees .

Turns out our useless Shue tree makes an excellent shade tree to rest under on a hot day. No need to worry about someone coming along and chopping it down.
Mystic Wing said…
I've always liked this parable.

I fiercely believe that this is true: the world is changed only by changing ourselves. It is, after all, the only thing we have any modicum of control over.

Merry Christmas, Tim. I love the Munch banner, by the way.
Having a history degree I find that newspaper article fascinating. I hope you save it.

I love the tree story, I feel like that tree often.