I teach the lesson of humility;
Overstretched snaps the bow,
The usefulness of futility;
The advantage of laying low. —Laozi
Laozi once left eternal wisdom with a border guard as he wandered off into forests unknown. This paraplegic author outlined his hiking injuries in the Press Banner article, “I Fell in Felton.” My outrageous follies stemmed from hiker’s egotism that led to a pitch-dark Roaring Camp train trestle. I now defy urban nursing home keepers to weather the storms of Ben Lomond because, with the peace of many religions, I truly love my life as a log in the SLV forests.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him. —Lin Yutang
Now I can’t move or feel anything below my chest, and for three months the doctors ordered me to lie flat on my side, rolling like a log to relieve pressure sores. Gone too early are sensations of speed in two wheeled wanderlust, thrills of heights, physical ecstasy, castle walls, church steeples and exotic cultures. I once rebuilt houses; now I just supervise unavoidable repairs from photos. Ever present is my dependency on others with new risks that I might be cheated or dominated. I suffer my karma without regret:
Act on things and you will ruin them.
Grasp for things and you will lose them. —Laozi
Modifying my environment and stabilizing cash flow took all my financial planning and real estate skills. Motors now whirl me out of bed and into my van and Alexa devices control the lights and welcome visitors. I fell a generation too early for stem cells or electrodes to bypass my back injury or Robocop hydraulics to let me chase cars up highway 17. Medical needs complicate life and my raging monkey-mind is sometimes left waiting with nothing to do—so I meditate willy nilly.
Laying at night upside down in a ditch, warding off the cold with pushups, I imagined three things: I would marry happily, earn money with tax and planning business, and write historical fiction about the demise of freedoms in Revolutionary China. I had to convince myself that most people around here accept a chairbound CFP professional—as I had once accepted my grammar school principal. Clients seek advice and assistance at my home.
Happy marriage came unexpectedly when a lovely Filipina appeared with compassion to care for me, wisdom to earn my respect, and teacher’s inspiration. We dated passively from bedside—without travels, flowers or restaurants—and married in SLV woods.
To be bent is to become straight. —Laozi
I am lame but not deaf or dumb. By fighting naysayers’ who push me to rest homes, am I an inspiration for the disabled community? Business comes to my house without me chasing it and I did nearly 200 tax returns this year. Not by intention, but I apparently passed instantly from the WASP oppressor category to the oppressed ADA minority category. I can see how others would find ready excuse to go onto the dole. But, demanding little, I am a mountain man who still favors the “Live and Let Live” philosophy:
Tao abides in non-action,
Yet nothing is left undone.
If kings and lords observed this,
The world would develop naturally. —Laozi
I was arrogant in my love of SLV wilderness—which meant I loved the conquest more than the wilderness. I could not satisfy myself with the well-trodden path near the lovely San Lorenzo River. Only now can I meditate on its beauty at sunset with the kids playing. Life is simpler and less disappointing if, like a good Buddhist, I limit my material attachments, travel desires, ambitions for leadership. Thus Jesus puzzled:
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. —Matthew 18:3-4
Living without attachment is difficult, and even my love of wife, house and wilderness is hypocritically active. Until I become a monk, I will be happy with mountain offerings. Frustration is futile. If I make peace with paraplegia and contend with no one, writes Laozi, all those around me will transform naturally.
I am as opposed to war as Laozi and would celebrate Ukrainian victory with funerary rites for the fallen. But I write of great wars and pass judgment on their justice. My novel can help others reflect on what happens if the state starves its people while attacking all the world’s religions. I hope to bring life to the forests by meditating on death.
I am a log in the SLV forest, singing, but not the only log. My story does not end when I fall, for new saplings spring from my breast.