Tag Archives: Tao

Your Personal Slave


Let us suppose that you own a slave. You would be responsible for his/her food, exercise, education, everything. If you were not allowed to give him freedom, how would you treat him?

I really hope you said something like, “I would give him the best life possible.” You would try not to work him into the ground. You would let him have his own way whenever you could. Adequate sleep, good nutritious food. (If you said anything worse than that, go sit in the corner and rethink your ethics. )

Well, guess what? You do own a slave. A hopelessly devoted, flawlessly obedient slave. It is your own body.

Do you take good care of your slave?

Do you make it drink until it’s sick, even though it begs you to let it stop? Do you make it stay up late, doing your homework because you didn’t get it done earlier? Have you ever worked your poor slave until it fell asleep, despite its best efforts? Do you feed your slave good food, or is it forced to survive off of gummy bears and Cheetos?

Your body tells you when it needs something, but it’s always a gentle nudge. You get the final word every time. It is fully bound to your insane demands.

Ask it to run. Like a faithful horse, it will run until you say otherwise or it collapses. Ask it to stay up so you can watch one more episode, and it’ll put its own needs off to please you.

It timidly requests water, so quiet you might not hear if you aren’t paying attention. Do you give it enough? 

It pulls lightly on the corner of your mind and whispers, I’m happy to keep working but can we please take a bathroom break. Do you force it to work until the need is on the verge of disaster? 

It’s been doing your reading for four hours straight and its eyes are fatigued. Do you tell it to squeeze its eyes shut for two seconds then keep on?

So many people seem to be waging war with their bodies. They are disconnected from themselves. Hannah and I always joke about magazine covers: “Wear a new body for summer!” “Find your bikini body!” “Get abs!” They seem to think a body is a fashion accessory which can be shaped and molded like clay, or maybe they think we’re made of interchangeable Lego pieces. It’s a weird way of looking at your own body.  People talk about building it up, breaking it down, burning it, whipping it into shape.

Poor body. It never rebelled. It just gets tired sometimes. You were the one who got it addicted to television and donuts. It would love to break those habits but it can’t do it alone.

Make sure and give your body plenty of outside play time, fresh water, nutritious food, quality sleep. Keep it clean and listen to its spare, unselfish requests. Check that it has clear skin, bright eyes, and strong nails. If you’re treating it well, it will be happy to greet you in the morning and excited to start a new day with you.

Now you have a new weird way of looking at your body.














Zen Waterfall



Electronic waterfall.

Zen you can buy.


Tinkling of elf bells.

Chinese water torture.

Tickling trickling.

Unwavering, relentless.


Wetly cold.

Miniaturized peace.

Better than nothing.


Inconstant creek

Sun warmed

Life leaves ripples in the sound.

The water cavitates

Deeper bubbles.

Little granite cave

Darker tone.

Weighty cascade

Runs over boulders

As it pleases or not at all.
















This moment

Happiness is

A hot mug on a cold day

Someone kind to sit with

A comfortable cat on your lap

Happiness is

The ability to make your own choices

His profile when he’s driving

The first bite of a cheeseburger.


Happiness is when things rebalance

Delay and satisfaction

Cold and warm

Hunger and satiation.

Happiness is to be present

Fully aware of reality

And nothing else.

No past, no future, no illusions.


Happiness is watching your socks while waiting for the microwave

A furry blanket

The unique way she tells stories

Happiness is feeling safe during the rain

Looking for the most perfect flower in the yard

A story like music

Music like a story

A color that glows

The smell of freshly baked bread

Clean hair after a shower

His fingers intertwined with yours

When the movie theatre darkens

and the score thrums alive.


Happiness chooses a moment

holds it softly in her warm hands

until everything pauses.


Just drivel

Last night I drove to my sister’s to give her ham. (The ham was amazing by the way. Rich, savory, smoky, salty meat magic. So much better than your average pale water-logged drowned-corpse store-bought ham.)

Unfortunately no one was there. We’d missed each other! She was in town, where I’d just come from. Curses.  They were in the middle of getting their house fumigated for brown recluses. So I did the normal thing: got in through their garage, held my breath, and made a ham deposit in their fridge. The fumigator guys were long gone, but nobody was supposed to be in the house for another three hours. I’m fine, I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’m no brown recluse.

Then I drove back to town and met the same sister for ice cream. The drive was so ridiculously pointless, but we hadn’t been able to get ahold of each other until it was too late.

Still, the ice cream was nice, and her kids are lovely little people, if you don’t mind people who hang their whole weight from your neck and giggle insanely at their own poop jokes. We all made faces at each other while we ate our ice cream. Now we all know exactly who can do the Elvis lip and with how many sides of their face, who can raise which eyebrows, etc. I let them benefit from my greater age and wisdom and taught them a few things. As a child, I practiced these things in the bathroom mirror with the vague premonition that they would come in useful one day, and lo, they have.

Then I went for a run. My app refused to work so I just ran without it, and it was one of the nicest runs I’ve had all year. Why was I timing myself again? What horrible things we do to ourselves without even being aware. It’s easier to enjoy a run when you don’t have to meet some kind of arbitrary deadline. And it’s easier to get yourself out the door when you know you will enjoy the run. You will be a happier runner if you don’t worry about all the little scientific aspects of running, and being a happier runner who follows the dictates of the body will make you a healthier runner. This is Tao. By not working hard at running, I’ll be a better runner. No more running app for me.

Then I went to the grocery, picked up some bread and blackberries, went home, made the most delicious grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with the ham I’d smoked. I also threw together a blackberry cobbler and accidentally gave it way too much biscuit crust which took forever to cook. Everything was delicious. The beauty of life is directly proportional to the beauty of the food, and today my friends, life was beautiful.

Then I went to bed early in an attempt to get up early. Got a wild hair up my ass and composed a villanelle which took hours and then it was late. My lifelong struggle has been to get up early. I’m wondering if I can use what I learned from my run today to help me get up early in the mornings. I want to get up early in the mornings. So… I’m just going to stop trying. See where that gets me. There’s no easier experiment.


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