Tao’s it goin’ ?

by Michael Zabel

Last month I attended a presentation in which speaker Jim Krause, author of the ever useful index books, brought up an interesting ideology rooted to the ancient philosopher Laozi.  The basic notion is that your mind is like a clay pot and its most useful when the pot is empty.  The actual quote goes something like this:

We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

— Laozi Tao Te Ching 11

This got me thinking about the different ways we as creatives go about emptying our own “clay pot” so that we can maximize our creative output and, more importantly, be open to the creation that naturally occurs around us.  As we hustle through our daily grind, it is equally important to decompress and reset so the brain is both prepared to take on the the next challenge and be susceptible to the ideas that will come to us.  An absence of meditative exercise will ultimately lead to burn-out and more than likely depression because you just won’t feel like using the energy you have left for creating anything.

There are many ways to go about clearing your head and the trick is to find what works for you.  For example, if I find myself dragging through a task, I like to go for a run outside for 30 minutes.  The physical exertion is a nice way to break up the monotony of sitting at a drawing table or computer for most of the day.  It also gives my head a quick power nap while I only have to move my legs and breathe.  Reading a book is also a great way to recharge.  Some well written fiction is never a bad choice, just make sure it’s enjoyable enough to get lost in for a little while.  Some people like to do yoga or actually meditate, others prefer taking a walk or a bike ride.  As I said before it’s up to you to find something that works for you.  Just try to stay away from things like drugs or alcohol as the idea is to empty your mind so you can fill it back up coherently, not to fog it up with substances that will obstruct efficiency and just make you forget.  Be responsible and save the craft brews for the weekend or celebrations!

This weekend I am actually taking a mini-vacation; a camping trip in foothills of Mt Rainier.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by something other than city lights and city noises.  Putting some more miles on my hiking boots will be a great way to recharge for the upcoming weeks.  Until then I will leave you with one more thought (because you know how much I enjoy quotations):

“Be totally empty,
embrace the tranquility of peace.
Watch the workings of all creation,
observe how endings become beginnings.”