Categories – Part 1

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”
55   Attention
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.

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