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The Full Life

17 Apr 2014
By Chinese standards, I have lived a full life: Today I am 60 years old. I was born in a Year of the Wooden Horse, which comes around once every 60 years  and here we are again, Year of the Wooden Horse. I am a true Trojan. For you Westerners, my birthstone is diamond, so the perfect gift would be a wooden horse stuffed with diamonds instead of soldiers.

Full life? What the heck is that all about? The Chinese Zodiac is based on one animal per year, as opposed to the Western variation, which goes by months. So I was born in a Year of the Horse, 1954. The Year of the Horse recurred in 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, and now 2014.

Toss into the mix another aspect of Chinese culture called Five Element Theory. For many people it is essentially a religion, but for me it is a paradigm that helps me dig deeper into internal work. The Chinese call this work neijia; if you are Western, think of it as a way to plug directly into God without prayer. Throughout the centuries it has been treated as the work of monks and saints, not ordinary churchgoers, but for world mental health I would like to see that change. I entered the training more than three decades ago; for more than a decade I have been a teacher, but in my heart I remain a student.

At any rate, each 12-year Zodiac goes through an element  the five elements being water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Since I was born in the spring, which is associated with wood, that element of my Wooden Horse heritage is strengthened. Wood is associated with spring, the color green, the liver, negative feelings of anger, and positive feelings of kindness. Thus it is believed that anger may be managed and liver health may be improved by meditating on the wood element, its associated color, green, and its associated sound, which cannot be replicated in writing. In the last decade I have worked with this meditative practice, called Six Healing Sounds, a lot; my 2011 CD, Tai Chi Meditations, is largely devoted to it.

As a teenager I was afflicted with hepatitis, a liver disease that might have killed me. Three years ago my primary care physician informed me that my blood shows no evidence of any prior liver disease. He gave me carte blanche to donate blood for the first time since childhood! He believes my earlier doctors were in error in their diagnosis, but I have all my medical records since 1963, with which I can confirm the diagnosis, made at the hospital where I was born, on Carswell Air Force Base in North Texas. Perhaps both are correct, and my antigens were cleaned out by my neijia work. Possible? Perhaps. Provable? Not at all. Neijia is essentially religious work, which means faith is an important component. I find it can be connected to Christian traditions without much difficulty, if you are inclined to expand your mind to allow such possibilities.

All this is skirting the real issue: Now that I have entered my second life, what will I do with it? In old China, men who could do so would retire at 60, often to become monks or sages. That's not a bad direction for me, but a bit premature by a dozen years or more. All around me I have friends who are retiring from their jobs, and in many way retiring from life. I am headed in the opposite direction with my second life. I cannot imagine abandoning the producer (or at least contributor) class. I am a maker, not a taker. I will keep going until I drop, which I am not planning to occur any sooner than 2062, when I turn 108. (Although, yes, I have a will and a personal trust fund, just in case.)

For my remaining decades I am fully yielding to my true nature. That came easily to many people I admire, but not for me. I have denied my true essence for so long, and to what end? In biographies I read, great people have not allowed themselves to be hung up on external considerations. I just read my first biography of Nikola Tesla, with whom I feel a strong commonality (except for the part about being an engineering genius). Tesla largely went his own way and paid a price for it. My work requires efforts made in solitude, which is ultimately a lonely business.

Perhaps a lot of people reside in this space where I find myself. Being single and relatively unencumbered, I can allow my journey to take me where it must. It's about time! I am writing prodigiously; some of that writing would have gotten me excommunicated, imprisoned, or even executed in prior centuries. Some of it may yet. The next time you hear from me it will be to let you know more about my Muse's musings, and where you fit in. Trust me, you do fit in.

You may also like this related article: Crashing the Wave (141)
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