Thursday, September 06, 2007

To Zen, or not to Zen?

Living at home has its perks. Take, for instance, the variety of reading materials I am offered each time I use the restroom. My mom has a little basket filled with magazines and quirky books (most at least three years old) right next to the toilet. Included in the selection are a special (collectors!) edition of People Magazine's "30 Years of Seeing Stars," The World's Shortest Stories (55 words each) and an assortment of Country Living magazines and Carmel Visitor guides.

Each time I get back from a trip I find a new addition in the basket (thank God, because I've pretty much made my way through everything else, and 3-year old Country Interior schemes can only hold my attention for so long). This week it was "The Little Zen Companion" which I have been enjoying for its wisdom, and sometimes, oddity. Because while I can get behind "When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword. When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem," by Lin-Chi, I'm just not sure what to make of this, "so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens." Really? Does so much depend on said wheel barrow? This bit of zen mastery comes to us from William Carlos Williams - not your typical zen master from the sound of it (I could tell you more, but his Wiki entry is just too long to be bothered with).

"I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry." - John Cage



Blogger Peter DeWolf said...

They don't make me feel zen. Just a little confuzzled.

9/06/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Indiana James said...

WCW lost me a red wheel barrow... I have read that 5 times and each time, I just get hungrier... I need to write more. :P

BTW, trip plans are taking their final form.

9/06/2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger SarahLeigh said...

perhaps the wheel barrow and chickens have something to do with chinese associations with the colors of red and white? Just a guess.

9/11/2007 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Williams worked as a country doctor. He was at the deathbed of a patient, gazing out the window. The scene outside the window: the red wheelbarrow, the rain, the chickens. I've always envisioned him staring hard out that window at that scene, as if it could somehow ward off death, the way that we feel if we don't move, time can't move forward.

10/08/2008 2:54 PM  

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