If you follow this site solely for the fitness shit, this is a post you probably want to skip. But real quick before you click…we want to let you know that we’re working on the back end to get the physique-focused content up and running consistently again.
We’re trying to improve our digital skills, update and add to our physique transformation strategies, and are doing some bigger picture brainstorming about how to better get our content across, in order to more efficiently help you reach your physique goals.
But until we reconvene on that front again, sayonara my 6-Pack friend.
For those interested in (or at least are kind enough to put up with) some of the philosophical stuff we intersperse from time to time for some authentic flavor and artistic spice, well, this one’s for you. After all:
A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants. A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is. – Tao Te Ching
True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering. – Tao Te Ching
In that spirit, the fitness stuff had to take a back seat this week. There were a couple of birthday bashes going down, and since both of the honorary guests are freaking dead, I had to find a way to celebrate them in some other way. I don’t really believe in the next life. Perhaps the way to immortality is to live on in the memories of those we love and impact the most. Today I play my part in that process.
It’s funny man. In reading back through some of my old posts (3 Lessons I Learned From My Late, Great Mama: A Post For Ol’ Pat Part I & A Post For Ol’ Pat Part II) and book projects (The Way of the Cancer Warrior) to reminisce about the peeps that I miss, it became clear that I’m really just the messed up son of an Irish Loose Canon & an Asian Wave Man.
The good news is that my craziness and contradictions are not imaginary. Knowing now that the phenotypes of these styles are constantly battling away in my brain — lets get in a bar fight vs. everything is gonna be alright, hustle and make some cash vs. enjoy the moment because it passes in a flash, cut a few corners vs. practice Kaizen, etc. — the script of the cartoon going on in my head 24/7 suddenly seems to make perfect sense.
Anyways, when this post hits somewhere near August the Sixth, I’ll be off somewhere celebrating my dad’s birthday. If he were still here hanging with me, he would have been 79.
It’s been over 3 years since that old fisherman bastard passed away, and it seems like it was just yesterday that we were catching up about life over a ball game. That was back when the 49ers were good, his health was stable, and there was the illusion that all would carry on this way forever.
THE WAVE MAN’S LAST RIDE
Unfortunately a few months later, the tides had dramatically changed. The cancer my dad was battling had aggressively progressed to the point of no return, and he knew he was on his last ride in this world. On that summer day, he asked me to kick it with him for one final conversation. I’ll never forget it.
What I remember the most was that even with death knocking right on his doorstep, he was rolling like The Wave Man that I had always known, right up until the very end – cool, calm, and collective; at complete peace with how things were, and however they were going to play out.
And selfless. He was mostly asking about how I was doing in life. All he said about himself was that he was scared, but at the same time, he was ready to go. Even back then, perhaps foreshadowing this post, I thought of this quote:
The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. He knows that he is going to die, and he has nothing left to hold onto: no illusions in his mind, no resistances in his body. He doesn’t think about his actions; they flow from the core of his being. He holds nothing back from life; therefore he is ready for death, as a man is ready for sleep after a good day’s work. – Tao Te Ching.
It was a surreal experience. Here was a dude that knew he had lived a good life, so much so that when his expiration date hit, he wasn’t frantically trying to escape it. He didn’t suffer from anxiety, remorse, stress, or regret. Whatever mistakes he made, he had already made up for. Whatever faults he had, he had already corrected.
And beyond that, he had done everything that he wanted to do, and what he did, he did to the best of his abilities with the resources he had. As a result, he was simply ready to walk on to whatever is next.
I can only hope I live a life that leads to that same type of personal satisfaction and peace of mind when my time is up.
Yep, my dad was the most Daoist-style dude I’ve ever met, and I’m damn sure he had no idea, or cared about what that even meant. He was never into religion, philosophy, or hippie bullshit. He was just a guy that lived his life naturally and authentically.
But in my eyes he was the epitome of what it’s all about, at least my understanding/interpretation of it (which could be way off). As they say, you can’t really name it or explain it, but you can see it and sense it.
He seemed to act effortlessly while still doing everything.
He didn’t care about acceptance or praise, but everyone gave it to him anyways.
He made everyone, from any walk of life, feel comfortable, accepted, respected, and appreciated.
He treated everyone like family, even some shady dudes and straight up scumbags that didn’t really deserve it.
He never tried to put on a show or project an image. He was always just himself, saying what he meant, and doing what he believed.
He brought people together, people that without him there would probably not want anything to do with each other. But through him, they found some common ground.
He listened way more than he talked, but when he said something, it damn sure carried great weight and impact.
He was a simple guy that always seemed at peace (while the rest of us were scatterbrained). His calming effect always seemed to rub off on you. When you left his place, you always left with a smile, with an attitude of gratitude, and with the feeling that everything was going to be alright in your life.
He never lost that child-like, playful spirit, even through some of the harshest challenges and worst situations in life.
In short, he taught me everything without trying to teach me anything, and he never once tried to take any credit for it. All that old fishermen did was lead by example.
A BRIEF LOOK AT THE TAO TE CHING BOOK
Yes indeed, I sure do miss the Master. I miss one of my best friends. I love people, but I’m a loner by nature, have a hard time being around most in long stretches, and shy away from the majority of social situations. But he was one of the few dudes I couldn’t hang out with enough, and looked forward to rolling with whenever, wherever, doing whatever.
Perhaps even more, I miss that purely positive influence he had on my life. These days, with the schemers, scammers, and attention clamorers, its hard to find that. No doubt, a big void was created when my pops walked on to the other side.
These days, it seems I turn to the Tao Te Ching from time to time for that Wave Man influence. It definitely ain’t the same, but it will have to do.
When I was younger and naive, I used to think I knew everything. As I’ve gotten older, I now realize I know next to nothing. But so this is not just a totally self-serving post, and to try and do something of use, I thought I’d share some quotes from the book that have helped me, in hopes that they will somehow help you.
Why quotes? Optimized strategy in this case means letting the real greats teach you vs. doing what most hipsters do, re-hashing someone else’s words while pretending to be an omnipotent guru.
ON SELF-KNOWLEDGE & SELF-ACTUALIZATION
You can’t know it, but you can be it, at ease in your own life. Just realize where you come from: this is the essence of wisdom.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.
Stop thinking, and end your problems. What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid? How ridiculous!
In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.
The great Way is easy, yet people prefer the side paths.
True words aren’t eloquent; eloquent words aren’t true. Wise men don’t need to prove their point; men who need to prove their point aren’t wise…Express yourself completely, then keep quiet.
In the pursuit of knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped. Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else, there is no end to the blame. Therefore the Master fulfills her own obligations and corrects her own mistakes. She does what she needs to do and demands nothing of others.
The Master doesn’t talk. He acts.
ON FLEXIBILITY & ADAPTABILITY
If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas. Tolerant like the sky, all-pervading like the sunlight, firm like a mountain, supple like a tree in the wind, he has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way.
If you don’t realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kind-hearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.
ON PEACE OF MIND
Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return. Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity.
If you close your mind in judgments and traffic with desires, your heart will be troubled. If you keep your mind from judging and aren’t led by the senses, your heart will find peace.
If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. If you stay in the center and embrace death with your whole heart, you will endure forever.
Fame or integrity: which is more important? Money or happiness: which is more valuable? Success or failure: which is more destructive? If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
The Master’s power is like this. He lets all things come and go effortlessly, without desire. He never expects results; thus he is never disappointed. He is never disappointed; thus his spirit never grows old.
ON BEING PROCESS VS. OUTCOME FOCUSED (DO YOUR JOB & BE DONE WITH IT)
The Master does his job then stops. He understands that the universe is forever out of control, and that trying to dominate events goes against the current of the Tao. Because he believes in himself, he doesn’t try to convince others. Because he is content with himself, he doesn’t need others’ approval.
It pours itself into its work, yet it makes no claim. It nourishes infinite worlds, yet it doesn’t hold on to them…When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever.
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench…Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.
He who stands on tiptoe doesn’t stand firm. He who rushes ahead doesn’t go far. He who tries to shine dims his own light. He who defines himself can’t know who he really is. He who has power over others can’t empower himself. He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go.
Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.
Rushing into action, you fail. Trying to grasp things, you lose them. Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe. Therefore the Master takes action by letting things take their course. He remains as calm at the end as at the beginning.
ON EMPOWERING OTHERS VS. FEEDING YOUR EGO
The master, by residing in the Tao, sets an example for all beings. Because he doesn’t display himself, people can see his light. Because he has nothing to prove, people can trust his words. Because he doesn’t know who he is, people recognize themselves in him. Because he has no goal in mind, everything he does succeeds.
When the will to power is in charge, the higher the ideals, the lower the results. Try to make people happy, and you lay the groundwork for misery. Try to make people moral, and you lay the groundwork for vice. Thus the Master is content to serve as an example and not to impose her will.
The Master doesn’t try to be powerful; thus he is truly powerful. The ordinary man keeps reaching for power; thus he never has enough.
When they lose their sense of awe, people turn to religion. When they no longer trust themselves, they begin to depend on authority. Therefore the Master steps back so that people won’t be confused. He teaches without a teaching, so that people will have nothing to learn.
The Master can keep giving because there is no end to her wealth. She acts without expectation, succeeds without taking credit, and doesn’t think that she is better than anyone else.
PICK YOUR OWN GUIDEPOSTS
Those are the quotes that resonated with me, and in many ways remind me of my dad’s style.
The beauty of books is that you have the freedom to find a few nuggets of gold that resonate with you. What’s the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? In the end, it’s always best if you become your own guide.
If the Tao Te Ching is something you think you’d like to check out, you can grab it here:
*Link Note – this is an affiliate link meaning that if you decide to buy the book through this link, I’ll get a small commission (I think its like 5%, so pennies). It’s like buying me a drink for sharing what I think, which is the least you can do. Both my parents are freakin’ dead remember, hahaha…
If you think that’s shady (I’ve been in the online fitness game long enough to not trust anyone or anything) or ruins the spirit of this post, simply exit my site, log onto Amazon directly, do a search for the book’s title, grab it through that listing, and I’ll get nothing. Honestly, I’m cool with it either way. I care more about sharing an approach that I think could help you rather than raking in a few extra coins (at least this time anyways, tomorrow I might go back to my mom’s Hooligan style)…