I've never watched an episode of Seinfeld, but the theme of the show -- "nothing" -- appeals to me. In one way or another, this is what attracted me to my Wu Project, which is still bubbling along in its nothing-much fashion.
Here's the thing, though: "nothing" still is something, when this notion is viewed as something special, something to be attained, something waiting around a meaning-of-life corner.
Zen folks have a lot to say, via words or silently, on this subject.
But I don't think there's any unique understanding of "nothing" here either, since Zen (and Buddhism in general) still sees it as something that needs effort, even of the effortless variety, to grok.
Recently I came to one of my Big Dog Walk Insights shortly after setting off with the family pet on our usual two-mile loop.
With nothing to do but take one step after another, leash in hand, my dog walk time leads me to be more aware than I usually am of what passes through my mind when my brain doesn't need to do any cognitively complex stuff.
Observing thoughts arising of this or that, sometimes I feel like I should shut them up through a mantra, or mindfulness of the external sights and sounds that surround me. Hearing myself talk to the dog, as pet owners often do, sometimes I feel like I should commune with her wordlessly, which is how members of her species interact.
Starting once again to engage in this habitual self-referential, self-questioning drama, suddenly a starkly simple intuition popped into my psyche:
It doesn't matter. Do whatever you want. Think or don't think. Talk or don't talk. Whatever. It's all the same.
Naturally, I then pondered this intuition as dog and man walked on.
My primary sensation was lightness. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my meaning-of-life shoulders. The need to conform with some standard, even as non-religious'y as "thou shalt be mindful," had faded away. I was left with a pleasing feeling that whatever came along, inside or outside of my head, was just fine.
Now, I realize that what I'm talking about might sound to you like one of those unfunny stories where the teller of the tale, seeing a quizzical look on the face of his listener, says "I guess you had to be there."
Of course. Agreed.
Heck, I was there, since I was the one who had this Big Dog Walk Insight, and I still have some difficulty in appreciating the aha! of that nothing-to-do moment. What I've written admittedly seems worthy of a "so what?" given its obviousness.
Life is what it is. There's got to be a bumper sticker with that platitude. Is this worth a second's thought, much less a blog post?
There are no rules (which is on a t-shirt I have, not a bumper sticker). Most people, certainly including me for most of my life, are addicted to searching for the right way to live -- as if this was a thing, an object, a Platonic form, that exists as some sort of objective reality somewhere or other outside of our current awareness/ understanding/ state of enlightenment.
This leads us to feel that something is missing from our lives. We assume that there is an optimum way of being, and we're only firing on a few meaning-of-life cylinders. We want a tune-up!
So we turn to religions, self-improvement programs, counselors, psychotherapists, spiritual advisors, holy books, gurus, etc. etc. etc. We figure that however we're acting now, however we're feeling now, however we're thinking now -- there must be better alternatives. Thus we keep on keeping on, running in the hamster cage of "must improve!" without ever getting to the promised land.
If this is what we feel like doing, great. But there may come a time when another possibility presents itself: Nothing. Which, more accurately, is the absence of possibilities, because it is the presence of what is here and now.
What I've just said may sound like gibberish to you. It might not make any sense at all. OK, that's what it is. For you. Nothing more to do; you've got it.