I promise to get to the point and write about books, but for some reason I feel a need to get some introductory material out of the way.
For a long time I got a lot of mileage out of talking about what I called “The Core Philosophy,” which was very simple: “Do Nothing.” If you saw the tagline or the last post, this shouldn’t be a surprise. It has always been a joke, sort of, as in one of those jokes that is pretty true and you take it pretty seriously, but you don’t really want to own it. I’m a little uncomfortable even calling it my core philosophy even now, and feel a little safer saying “the core philosophy.” I feel like I’ve moved on, but it was fun while it lasted.
And it’s a pretty fascinating concept to explore. It’s impossible to do nothing. It’s actually very hard to practice the core philosophy, trying to do as little as possible.
I believe my first Core Philosophy was a meaningful catchphrase that my old group adopted with gusto: whatever it takes. This had a macho, rugged spirit to it, and was a hearty can-do motto, if you will, the beginnings of a philosophy. If you’ve seen the previous post, you can see how zhiving can be adapted to “whatever it takes” (the “whatever” sounds like a bit of a zhiv), as well as “Do Nothing.” But “Do Nothing” is more profound and inclusive, beginning to explore the zen of zhiving.
The Core Philosophy served me well through a long dry spell at work. All too well, you might say. Things just seem to happen and events run their course. If the Core Philosophy is seen as a sort of anti-Pyramid of Success, with “Do Nothing” at its apex, the corners of its foundation are two conflicting statements: “Nothing happens if you don’t do it yourself” (familiar and thought-provoking in the proper context), and “Empty yourself of desire.” My thought was that somewhere in the midst of this dynamic triangle one would find “homeostasis,” the perfect balance and harmony.
When you start looking around for nothing, you begin to find it everywhere. “When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.” And there’s Seinfeld, of course, the show about nothing. I collected a few choice quotes over the years, and would happily look for more.
For various reasons, I guess I’ve moved on. But I couldn’t very well begin and explain zhiving and not talk about the Core Philosophy, now could I? And in my new world of desire, where things happen (like setting up a blog) because I do them myself, I guess I was casting around for a new philosophy over the course of the past year, and stumbled on it recently, over the holidays. My good friend, who is mastering the art of proclamation, stumbled on it as a mere aside, when he ended a description of throwing a “symptomatic” number of parties over the course of the year: “give give give!”
So there you the progression, at least for now:
whatever it takes
give give give