It all started back in 1973. I had just moved to Vancouver and was hanging around used book stores. I found myself gravitating to the “Religion” section, with an emphasis on “Eastern”. I bought a book called The Importance of Living, written in 1937 by Lin Yutang, and was enthralled. Many more purchases followed.
At some point, I began to write down quotations that resonated with me. And I’ve never stopped. By the mid-1980s, it was time to computerize all these little pieces of paper. Jody and I had bought a desktop computer (no laptops then) plus the WordStar word processing program. I started typing. Many months later, all the insights I’d collected were on my hard drive. I backed them up on 3.5″ diskettes.
Next, I needed to organize these thousands of ideas. So I created my categories, an effort to make the world’s wisdom (or my view of it) accessible. Here were my A’s:
5 Abiding, Standing, Resting, Stillness / Motion
10 The Absolute
15 Accepting, Letting, Allowing / Resisting, Rejecting, Analyzing, Judging
20 Action, Doing, Expression
30 Always Already, Prior To
37 Anger, Upset
38 Animation, Life, Aliveness
39 Annihilation / Survival
43 Appropriate, “Right”
75 Awakening, Being Awake / Being Asleep, Dreaming
77 Awareness, Sensitivity, Being Conscious, Listening, Hearing
78 Awe, Wonder
Perhaps some explanation would be appropriate. “Always Already” refers to a state of being spiritually awake, one that we don’t need to reach for. It’s within us at all times, waiting to be uncovered. “Annihilation” points to a letting go of a sense of “me” or “mine”, while still acknowledging that I need to navigate through the challenges that society presents.
The task then before me was to plug each quote into a category, or maybe more than one. I called them “Transformational Subjects”. I don’t know how long that took, probably more than a year. What I was left with was two huge blue binders full of thoughts, each page cradled within a clear, yellow-bordered page protector. I remember asking Jody if she would buy me page protectors for my birthday. She did.
Sometime in my past, one of the binders disappeared. So sad. Just now, I looked through the one I have left … 248 pages of double-spaced vibrating words. When Jody and I eventually bought Microsoft Word, I used to wonder how I’d convert the old WordStar files.
Last fall, I found all the diskettes, but when I inserted them into the disc drive of our desktop computer, all I saw on the screen was gibberish. WordStar was long gone. What intense sadness. Why, oh why, had I done all this decades ago?
The story continues tomorrow.