I am twenty-three years old, curled in the fetal position on my bed. I am a grown woman so lonely, I have twisted my body into a knot so small that I feel it may be tight enough to make me disappear and I hope that it does. I turn the air conditioning on and have striped myself bare; I'm shivering just to feel alive and wondering if I ought to feel this way at all.
How a person gets here, I wonder while the tears fall from my face. I'm writing at my computer so I don't have to blur pen ink across pages that I'll give back to the eath in days that pass. Nothing can stop the dark, dingy purple shades from creeping into my eyes from lack of sleep.
In Taoism, an affinity between life and death is part of the answer to either one specifically. In this particular moment, I don't even know if life is something to desire yet alone ponder the depth of. I started studying the Tao from afar as an activist dimension, believing that life could be prolonged by drawing on it's power. This by all practical definitions alludes to present-day fitness regimes having been prefigured in Taoist philosophy and practice: meaning that some things in modern society which exist make sense. These are aspects of life such as diet, exercise and using natural substances to strengthen health. Chinese alchemy focuses greatly on life prolongation and it was mirrored later in western development.
So while in bed, shivering in the cool air, thinking, crying and not wanting to move which included the contraction and expansion of my lungs within my chest. I am torn between two vicious choices. Do I continue to live and wonder in a cruel body which grants me a sound mind capable of thinknig and feeling-hard-to-swallow emotions, or do I die and perhaps reach the end where nothing is certain? Thinking of life, people are at least implicitly thinking of death. Human beings, being free-thinkers, are attracted to the idea of a life that somehow flourishes and renews, continuing despite a universe that seems so finite.
I used to listen to the story of Messrs Ssu, Yo, Lai and Li over and over again as a child. It was my favorite and perhaps is the reason I am so interested in the belief that those characters follow (the Tao) to this day. Anyway, the story goes that these four guys are good friends. They get together on a reagular basis in search for the truth from everything very complex to things quite simple. Ultimately, the friends realize that language will not help them. Well, one day, Lai gets very sick and it is obvious that he will die soon. His family is very upset by the news so they surround Lai to share stories of his life and sob in memory. That is, until Li shows up and tells them all to leave. Shh! Don't interrupt the process of change! He says. It is then that Messrs Ssu and Yo return to speculate with Li about what is to become of Lai. How extraordinary the great creator of life is, they imagine. Where will he go? What will be made from him next? They wonder until he dies and the three remaining friends return to their quest for truth.
The truth is that for now, I feel content. I can swallow my bad days in a few cool moments where I sob like a baby, but I surround myself with a solid, daily solace of generally good company. I realize that I am no Taoist nor do I seek to become one, but I find great comfort in knowing that in a place so far from here, there are people contemplating, with great discomfort, the same philosophical and religious questions I struggle with on a daily basis. It is time for some rejuvenating.