Nothing Happens and Everything Happens – A Paradox
People want nice neat endings in writing they want the world tied up and made simple. But of course life’s not like that. And when you write in a way that reflects life’s chaos it can make for an uncomfortable journey; it does not have a straightforward plot line or a neat and tidy ending; hopefully it contains truths. Recently I watched a Jim Jarmusch film Stranger Than Paradise that was a perfect example. A relative came from Hungary and ended up by accident staying with her cousin in New York. He didn’t want her to stay at all. That’s how it began. Nothing happens. Just their uneasy truce sharing a room. But everything happens. Their relationship changes. The end is messy and unresolved but of course it isn’t the end. We can only guess at what happens next. For me it was a gem of a film and the acting was superb.
I practice Zhan Zhuang. It is a practice taken from the ancient Chinese Daoist philosophy and uses breathing and stillness as a form of exercise. In Zhan Zhuang you stand like a tree. Yet how can you stand still and exercise?
Just as a tree appears motionless and rooted yet is growing inside so in Zhan Zhuang an inner relaxation helps replenish energy and restore strength naturally. Yet you can only understand and believe this by doing it.
Daoist philosophy believes in active nothingness that not doing is doing something. In Zhan Zhuang I stand still yet I gain energy from within. Similarly when looking at the pillars that hold up a building Daoist philosophers realised it was the space between the pillars that mattered and not the pillars themselves.
So when someone says of writing ‘nothing happens’ one has to question it.
Of course for some people it is too strange to believe that standing still is exercise and they just shake their heads and walk away.