I remember when I was very young and I was introduced to the phrase “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I was with my parents and it was on a big poster with a buddhist monk walking down a dusty road with a walking stick, surrounded by picturesque scenery, on one of those flip boards in the Woolco.
I thought about it very hard and then I asked my mother.
“But what does it end with?”
“It really doesn’t matter.”
“No, the message is that you have to start the journey.”
“Pffft… seems an awful long way to go for something that doesn’t matter.”
My father burst out laughing and bought the poster on the spot, hanging it in his den, the cliche forever changed for him.
The ironic thing is that the quote comes from Laozi, a founder of Taoism, not Buddhism, and the translation is closer to “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet”. Laozi didn’t mention anything about needing to take that first step to begin a journey, he was saying that action arises from stillness.
Recently, I had a birthday (nine lustria if you must ask) and a very good friend gave me a birthday card that had a deep message. There was another picture of a wandering buddhist monk and the caption “The way IS the goal…because sometimes the goal is in the way!”
We joked about how someone can put down almost anything these days, and it becomes so poignant and deep just by adding a picture of a buddhist monk and it reminded me of my father’s den poster.
Somewhere, deep in the offices of the Woolco poster department and the greeting card factories, there are people making money on the idea that any cliche with a picture of a Buddhist monk is deep, and we western hipster doofuses buy into it because there’s a monk, so it must be important and moving.
So here are my deep and moving messages of meaning that you can put on your Facebook or Tumblr and be all profound:
Ok, that last one was pretty cool, but you get my meaning…
Thanks to Fueled By Apples for the idea behind this entry.