Monday, 8 March 2010

Grasp The Moment

I had lived on Iona for a year leaving to return to Edinburgh. Here I was hoping to progress my studies further and gain University entrance. I was given the opportunity to join a commune, so I had accommodation all I need now was to find a means of earning enough to survive, (never had I accepted social welfare). I also need to find a way to finish my studies in the time scale. Both problems were within days in the most unexpected way.

Never being one to miss the opportunity of getting to know interesting characters, problem two was solved. Walking along the famous Princess street in Edinburgh with the castle towering above me, I noticed a newspaper vendor making conversation with customers, not something they normally did, and also reading what looked like a weighty tome. I engaged him in conversation and we seemed to strike up empathy for one another. He was a surgeon who had become an alcoholic and here he was selling newspapers. He offered to help with my studies if I helped him to increase his sales by taking some of the papers round the local hostelries. We almost doubled sales in a very short time and my studies progressed in the evenings. He had a wonderful way of imparting knowledge.

A couple of days later we had popped into a large store where we were going to have a meal, macaroni cheese, I can remember it to this day. While in the store I saw a man taking a bundle of bamboo poles out through the back door. I had an idea, and followed him out to find where he was taking them. I managed to come to an agreement that I would collect these poles for a very nominal payment. They were used to roll carpets round for delivery to the store.

Somewhere in my mind I remembered seeing bamboo that had been scorched and had looked like ebony. With a small saw I cut the bamboo into varying sizes of squares and oblongs. With a red hot blade I burned it turning it to the effect I remembered, its own natural oils creating a beautiful sheen. With a red hot knitting needle I made holes at each corner. With the use of leather thong I was able to produce belts, necklaces and bracelets. They sold like hot cakes from the newspaper stand.

What has this to do with Tao? It is a story about grasping the moment. It is about being alive to opportunities that moment by moment come our way. We have to be aware that in every encounter with another fellow human being, there is a person with a story to tell. The artist must be alert and alive to the stimulus of everyday moments.

This is the way of Tao.


  1. Thanks Ralph...another great one!

  2. Indeed. In the hustle of day-to-day, so many moments have passed by way, merely glimpsed and yearned for. Now that I am older, I have more time to relish these encounters .... but still regret those that were lost.