Friday, May 22, 2009


A very wise friend of mine once read the I Ching, sometimes called "The Book of Changes," and said that it was not a divination tool about the changes you should make, but an insight into the process of change.

And then he said, "You can't change your life. Your life is too big, too complex. Yes, if you pick up and move to sub-Saharan Africa, that'll change your life, but unless you do something that big, you can't 'change your life.' You change something small, something within your life. And that change will cause changes, which will cause changes, which will cause changes...and eventually, your life will indeed have changed."

I have stumbled across a lot of prescriptions for "changing your life," recently, how to "add time" or "make time," that sort of thing. And indeed I have come across many interesting ideas, but as Sam Anderson discusses (among many interesting topics) in this article, "life hacking," such as prescribed by and other such sites, also has a time cost. One can spend an awful lot of time trying to optimize things in order to recover time. "Sharpening the saw," Steven-Covey-style, certainly has its merits, but lifehacking can easily become a time sink in its own right.

And then, I came across a Zen story: The master, when asked to explain the essence of Zen, says "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep."

How many "energy recovery strategies" that are offered to the world essentially boil down simply to that simple formula?

It has been dawning on me, slowly but surely, that maybe instead of "resting" by picking up the computer or the iPhone or the TV and running my brain in second gear until I've expended all sorts of energy to "rest" and in so doing sucked the "energy tank" dry, that I should instead just lie down, put my feet up in a yoga inversion, turn the light off, shut my eyes, and actually rest.

So I've got a few minutes before I've got to go off to the next class, so that's what I'm going to do. And with luck, when I get home tonight and I'm tired, I'll do that then, too.

Make a small change, and that will make the big change. Don't try to push over ten thousand dominoes at once... just push over the first one.


Andy Chen said...

I often feel like the small changes themselves are often much more substantial than we realize. I'm glad that something as simple as an inversion is allowing you to rest -- I need to get back into practice.

Robert Parker said...

My doctor, in fact, said that inversions were crucial if you wanted to facilitate change in living or perspective. Silly as "looking at things upside-down as a 'change in perspective'" sounds.