So …this is the first article of Deviation Street. A true tale by Mark Tee about a life changing moment on a Winter’s night in a park and all alone. Reader read on .
Many years ago when I was in my late teens or maybe my early 20’s I had a life changing experience in a park late at night… not one of those Jimmy Saville, Freddy Krueger nightmare stories… trust me, this was much more illuminating. I had taken to getting mildly inebriated using whatever plants/fungi helped change my perceptions on occasional evenings and then going for long late night walks in a park near to where I was living at the time. This particular evening was in the middle of a very cold and snowy winter. There was a good foot of snow on the ground, the lake was frozen solid and then covered in snow so it was hard to make out where the lake was. The ground was crystalline white and shining back all the light pouring from the large moon and the many stars showing on a crisp and clear night. After an initial panic from finding myself lost in a park I knew well in normal circumstances I settled down and started to enjoy the feeling of everything being new. I eventually found myself walking in a circle around a large twig or branch that had fallen from a tree. It was coming up through the snow and forming a calligraphic sharp black shape, set off by the pristine white background of the snow. I allowed my mind to wonder as I paced slowly and quietly around this shape. It gradually became a Chinese character, as I am not fluent in Chinese calligraphy I didn’t worry too much about the literal meaning of this character. I did however start to think about the idea that the only thing that gave this character it’s form was the contrast with the background. I started to sense that the shape was not a shape but an interference of the background. This thought tumbled around and took off towards a Taoist realisation that what creates everything we can see, hear, touch, smell and taste is based on contrast and difference. Yin creates yang… yang creates yin… why see why… round and round eternally… at this point I stood back from the circle in the snow I had created while walking round this piece of dead tree and realised that I was now and always would be a Taoist. I cannot explain what that is in words but I aim to express it in the ways I choose to live. My daily Tai Chi practice keeps me tuned in to my Taoist approach to living and there is no right or wrong with this stuff. I know when I let go, step back, see the bigger picture, slow my breathing and allow myself to smile… me and life are both less destructive … in every way me and you can imagine. For more on this check out the Dao Te Ching or the I Ching… or go for a walk in a park at midnight and let your mind wander.
Words by Mark Tee
Image by Brian Gibson