Tag Archives: Wordpress daily prompt

A Maxim To Live By – Emptying Your Cup

“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Have you read the koan called A Cup Of Tea? It goes like this:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Practically, if you want different results you need to think about something in a different way.

Do things differently.

Step out of your comfort zone.

No almosts.

Try something new.

Take a risk, perhaps one you’ve never taken before.

This is key to growing and developing as a person.

It may seem daunting at first…try it on small things like driving a different route to work, wearing a colour you’ve never worn before and trying a dish you’ve in the past sworn never to try.

Different results need the cup to be empty of preconceived ideas, judgement and notions about what you know.


That’s Value Right There

Patina, thin layers brought on by time.

Yesterday Che and I were talking about restoring old things of value. Restorations are something Che loves doing. The love that he puts into bringing life back into an old and misused item is something that is beautiful about him. He recently restored an old oil welder. It was cracked and rusted. After a few months of tlc, it now looks very different. It’s usable now. That led us to talk about restorations and I asked about the cost/benefit ratio of restoring something. Of course, my frame is different to that of a restorer. There are some things that it is necessary to restore to look brand spanking new. And there are other items that need to be restored just enough to still retain the patina of age. That is what gives them value.

I came across this quote by John Yemma editor of the Christian Science Monitor, in his “open source” column for November 22, 2009, “On Thanksgiving: the memorial that time forgot” that beautifully describes this:

“Monuments are anchors in time. Epochs pass, weather erodes, people lose interest. This cannot be helped. But patina itself is worth appreciating. Patina is the value that age puts on an object.”

The same applies to other items such as cars, Fender amps and old oil welders. The patina is what gives items character helping them to retain their value.

The same thing can apply to people too. As one gain in years, people are imbued with a patina of wisdom, the passing of time creating layers of experience, layer upon layer upon layer upon layer.

Generally, in Western cultures, people who have these wonderful rich patinas are put away from mainstream society depriving the youth of learning from their wisdom. Many elderly people lose their purpose in life when removed from the family system, from their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A life without purpose is no life at all and often, at that stage of life, the only purpose an elderly person has is to be with their family.

I love the story of the students who live rent-free in an old age  home in the Netherlands in return for spending 30 hours with the residents, giving them computer lessons and cooking for them, helping to combat “the social isolation and loneliness in older men and women which increases mortality” – imagine the wisdom that they can tap into. This story was written in 2015 and I hope that it’s still ongoing.

John Yemma goes on to say,

(Patina) “It’s what makes an antique antique. It is experience, maturity, the soft sheen of time. Patina wasn’t present at the spanking-new creation. It comes from a life lived.”

How amazing is that, how incredible that as we become better versions of ourselves each and every day, we acquire the patina of a life well lived. That’s value right there.