April 17, 2010

Zen in the midst of chaos

It's been said that you've got to be careful what you wish for.
Having had my passport stamped upon arriving in the UK I looked at a few last empty pages and wished to get another stamp or two before the upcoming expiration date. Later in the week I borrowed a book from a friend to take on the road, knowing I wouldn't have time to finish it, but wishing I did.
Well now thanks to all flights in Europe being grounded due to the volcanic ash, I've been frantically journeying from train station to train station, finding plenty of time to finish the book and even earning another stamp upon leaving the UK and going into France. Be careful what you wish for!

It was quite a hectic day and a total thirty hours of straight travel. Dozens of failed calls to the airlines, hundreds of people waiting in line to purchase the few remaining train tickets, running from station to station in London, staying up all night in Paris to be the first to purchase the next connection...it's been insane and adventurous and frustrating and comedic all at the same time. As with all adventures, it's much more entertaining looking back and sharing the story with friends. But when you're in the thick of it, it's tough not to throw your arms in the air and give up all hope. At times like this, you've got to find a little gem of happiness to hang onto.

Luckily, the book - "Magic Matters" by Robert Neale - has been wonderful company. In particular, there was a trick accompanied by a Zen Buddhist tale that I share with you now with pleasure:

Retold from Zen Buddhism, Mount Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1959, page 61 and read in Magic Matters, Canada: The Theory and Art of Magic Press, 2009, page 112.

A traveler was fleeing a tiger. He ran until he came to the edge of a cliff. There he caught hold of a thick vine and swung himself over the edge.

Above him the tiger snarled. Below him he heard another snarl. He looked down and saw a second tiger peering up at him. The vine suspended him midway between two tigers!

Two mice began to gnaw at the vine. He could see that they would eat through it very quickly. Then in front of him on the cliff side he saw a luscious bunch of grapes. Holding on to the vine with one hand, he reached over and picked a grape with the other.

How delicious!


  1. Fantastic Post, I really love that quotation. Delicious!

  2. nice. somehow, this is the opposite of "sour grapes."

    Hang in there, Kostya,