The pic above is from an essay on Kierkegaard
I’ve been recently introduced to the concept/paradox of Wu-Wei or trying not to try…the action of non-action. Here’s an excerpt from a Taoist site regarding Wu-Wei :
“One of Taoism’s most important concepts is wu wei, which is sometimes translated as “non-doing” or “non-action.” A better way to think of it, however, is as a paradoxical “Action of non-action.” Wu wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which – without even trying – we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise.”
Spontaneity is a large part of it, staying in tune with your surroundings and allowing yourself to react or not react accordingly. I see this becoming much harder to achieve in a world where people are perpetually buried in their devices (smartphones/tablets etc.)
Here’s a recent article/review of a new book regarding this concept.
I remember consciously making the decision to stop listening to my walkman when I was still in high school, this was in the late 80’s early 90’s and I was discovering industrial music and Einstruzende Neubauten, for example, were subverting the medium of architecture to create soundscapes that reflected their surroundings. This in turn inspired me after years of tuning out and losing myself in whatever mixtape I had assembled that week, to allowing myself to be immersed in my immediate surroundings. I slowly started to pick up on rhythms created by the city itself. The sounds of automobiles, bus gears and doors opening and closing as pistons hiss and un-oiled hinges creak out specific frequencies. Human voices both hushed, muffled as well as louder ones transmitting individual moods and timbres, created another layer of texture to the symphony.
I also noticed the landscape change as the same route I took day after day up Elmwood Ave in Buffalo, NY from Utica St. to Forest Ave which was lined with boutiques and storefronts, transformed into merely the houses that were later augmented with these storefronts. I was able to mentally make the businesses disappear while visualizing what that street looked and felt like when it was just residential.
From that point on I noticed I was tuning myself into my surroundings and hearing much more inspiring sounds from snippets of multiple conversations and other naturally occurring things that I otherwise would’ve been oblivious to. Fine tuning that antennae also allowed me a more direct access to that ‘inner voice’ the one that guides us in seemingly random directions, but is always right on. Cultivate spontaneity and try not to force things to happen, lose a bit of control of your surroundings and you might find yourself embraced by a transformed world…one you don’t need to log into.