I was walking to the grocery store this morning – returning, because despite spending one hundred and seventy dollars I had of course forgotten the one thing my son asked me to get – when the thought popped into my head (of course it didn’t literally “pop”, that would have hurt as well as making a sound), the incredibly stupid thought that, according to a book I once read, decades ago, called “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, a real man should never be holding anything in his hands while he walks.
Because … reasons?
I have no idea why a real man should never be holding anything in his hands while he walks (although I could guess it might have something to do with fear), but I do remember reading that and somehow the idea got lodged in the old brain somewhere, only to pop out decades later, unbidden and unwanted.
I was not holding anything in my hands. I was walking. I was soon to be holding a coffee drink in my right hand while pushing a small cart with my left, so I knew it was coming, I knew I was shortly going to be violating that sacred principle.
If only this were the only absolutely stupid and useless thought that ever got stuck in my head, but sadly, it’s hardly alone in there. My brain is stuffed with such nonsense. All my life people have told me about the great benefits of reading, and I’ve read, read, read and read some more. I’ve read too many books by now. Way too many books. And although I’ve already forgotten most of what I’ve read (thanks to age and assorted brain damaging techniques along the way) some of that crap is still crammed in there.
It’s one thing when you’re young and just being exposed to the world and all those incredible ideas and the huge number of truly wonderful writers (not to mention the huger number of truly awful and hideous ones) and it sometimes seems like random chance alone determines what gets recalled and what is gone forever. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior was written by Dan Millman, if memory serves at all.
Partly this is a byproduct of nearly twenty years of working in bookstores, even though it’s been more than twenty years since I last did that. I had entire bookstores memorized back then, when I could close my eyes and navigate the store blindfold and correctly pick out the third book from the left on the second shelf from the top of the Nature and Gardening section and it would indeed be the book the customer had asked for. I was put to that test many times. I had a gift.
A stupid and pointless gift, of course, because eyes work better when they’re open and there was no point to it, just showing off, and now the price I pay for it is the ability to recall every title that V.C. Andrews and the people who were later paid to pretend to be V.C. Andrews after she died, ever published.
Eyes wide open work better. Now a “software engineer in tools and infrastructure” (S.E.T.I. is my actual job title!), I can only envy a computer operating system’s ability to delete whatever you tell it to delete and wish my brain worked the same way. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior and it’s nonsensical notion of not using one’s hands to carry things – one of the main jobs they’re really good at – would get flushed off disk forever, along with the many, many other stupid things I have so-called “learned”.
“The way is gained by daily loss. Loss upon loss until at last comes rest.” A certain translation of the Tao Te Ching put it that way. Perhaps Lao Tze knew how to forget. I seem to have no control whatever.