This year the lunar Chinese new year will be a belated timeline in terms of severing the last year and the next. It will be in early Feb., almost a month later compared to previous years. A collective ambiance or emotion usually befall this land for such a timeline, which, however, I’ve been keeping more or less ignorant of. The social timeline could be an illusion, as evident in countless doomed new year’s resolutions. It could be only beneficial when taken advantage of as a stop for reflecting and planning.
Tuned in to Steve’s latest podcast episode. He told of his anxiety and a bit of loss being caught in a data-driven industry, his rhythm disrupted. As a KOL, he unveiled his inner conflicts that could only be far more intense for “more ordinary” masses. Unless we know what we want, we would be otherwise ever at sea. In reality, common people have to be instrumental to be non-instrumental. This is the greatest paradox despite “君子不器” （A gentle does not make himself merely an instrument）. Of course, trying to be instrumental incurs pains, because our means and purpose are dismantled from each other. Fundamentally, (distorted) modern life is anti-human. We only have our action and time, which could count little or much depending on our choice. That’s is why it is the ordinary people that most need heroism.
Inner peace might breed and cultivate ambition, rather than desire. These days I’ve been trying to differentiating willingness (or ambition) from desire. I am just thinking: what’s the most salient desire for modern people. I would say it’s “I want to be seen”. Cynically, it’s ego-massaging external attention. And here is a unravelable knot: if growing up we have received sufficient quality attention, which I mean should be construed as familial or environmental acceptance and encourage exploration-wise and emotion-wise, we will not be dying for it and be mostly calm through our adulthood. But if we haven’t gained that attention, and if we try to seek it out into adulthood, we will feel even more lacking it. Seeking means lacking and seeking brings lacking. This strategy shows us the no going back for our life and time on this planet. Surely, early “attention” advantage does not predict stable mind and emotion, but only serves as a decent foundation, which is enviable enough for most.
Back to willingness (ambition) versus desire. To pursue gratification for desire driven by past lacking could blind us in finding our willingness, by which I mean a motivational source that takes us down a long path for meaningful life fulfilling.
Another issue is the ridding of desire might bring at least superficially a lack of gung-ho motivation. I have recognized this issue long before I am writing this post. Now I would say: let it go. Desire-driven motivation is doomed to snap down the line.
Meanwhile, I am not unaware that it must be an onerous job pinning down or creating one’s willingness. The latter might be closer to the truth. This job must take year-long reflection, planning, practicing and modifying. The key is to make a trench for our battery of cannons in the making and we must be most composed in dealing with chaotic reality while aiming tightly at our willingness. Honestly, this just gives me another reason or perspective for inner peace.
Inner peace, or meditation, now a middle-class or urban hallmark, is not just for peace itself; otherwise, it could easily degenerate into a tool. At least, during our preset timeframe for any activity, we must be 100% focused, be there, be at these moments: our purpose and means must be one.
I just realized that when we thinking to ourselves what for we are doing the current things at hand, we mostly are no longer caring about the current things, but fantasizing the more beneficial, attractive and ego-massaging future. We care more about the future than now. I think this might be why Buddhism says that mundane people live in ever illusions.
Finally, the concept of living in the present moment is not so hard to find in many books on meditation; however, I think in moment-to-moment daily life, we have to engage in one activity and another. This means our inner peace shall actually take place in a moving state and it seems more precious in such a moving state. Slow and steady progress spanning a long time imbued with inner peace could be the best way of meditation, I may conclude now. And only under such a premise, our planning, calculating and implementing can count and would not enslave us.
The pandemic surfaced again in north China and the country upped anti-virus policies. Mom urged me to return home earlier but I held out. I think news broadcasting and popular emotions are overblown and they seem only worthwhile for me when I have to check my routes and logistic arrangements for my bike. It’ll take some effort, but I think that to a degree, returning might also be the most challenging for a long trip. These days many guys transported their bike to their starting point for a trip and transported their bike back towards the end of the trip. The soulless trip, I would say. Riding down, I have learned how to cope with the meaninglessness of some trip legs. If we do wanna embrace nature, outdoors and life proper, we shall not allow for a picky mind.
Afternoons always seem unfresh and tiring, but writing through them might be a good way for meaningful inner peace.