I often get asked if this is a "foodie" blog, and who is this Cook Ding cat anyway?
One of the ancient authors whom I especially like is Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tzu) for his Inner Chapters. I find myself particularly attracted to his "skill stories," and the story of Cook Ding is chief among them. This is how it goes:
His cook was cutting up an ox for the ruler Wen Hui. Whenever he applied his hand, leaned forward with his shoulder, planted his foot, and employed the pressure of his knee, in the audible ripping off of the skin, and slicing operation of the knife, the sounds were all in regular cadence. Movements and sounds proceeded as in the dance of 'the Mulberry Forest' and the blended notes of the King Shou.'
The ruler said, 'Ah! Admirable! That your art should have become so perfect!'
(Having finished his operation), the cook laid down his knife, and replied to the remark, 'What your servant loves is the method of the Dao, something in advance of any art.
When I first began to cut up an ox, I saw nothing but the (entire) carcass. After three years I ceased to see it as a whole. Now I deal with it in a spirit-like manner, and do not look at it with my eyes. The use of my senses is discarded, and my spirit acts as it wills. Observing the natural lines, (my knife) slips through the great crevices and slides through the great cavities, taking advantage of the facilities thus presented. My art avoids the membranous ligatures, and much more the great bones.
A good cook changes his knife every year; (it may have been injured) in cutting - an ordinary cook changes his every month - (it may have been) broken. Now my knife has been in use for nineteen years; it has cut up several thousand oxen, and yet its edge is as sharp as if it had newly come from the whetstone.
There are the interstices of the joints, and the edge of the knife has no (appreciable) thickness; when that which is so thin enters where the interstice is, how easily it moves along! The blade has more than room enough. Nevertheless, whenever I come to a complicated joint, and see that there will be some difficulty, I proceed anxiously and with caution, not allowing my eyes to wander from the place, and moving my hand slowly. Then by a very slight movement of the knife, the part is quickly separated, and drops like (a clod of) earth to the ground. Then standing up with the knife in my hand, I look all round, and in a leisurely manner, with an air of satisfaction, wipe it clean, and put it in its sheath.'
The ruler Wen Hui said, 'Excellent! I have heard the words of my cook, and learned from them the nourishment of (our) life.'
- Zhuang Zi, The Inner Chapters
Trans. James Legge
By going deeply into his skill, Cook Ding learned how to live life.
Now if I could only develop some skills...
After ten years, Cook Ding's Kitchen has has about 1500 posts, 500K hits and over 100 followers. I'd like to thank each and every one of you for visiting.
Summer is shaping up and I am adapting to what is going on around me. The work related travel has begun again in earnest. I find whatever good habits and practices I've put together seem to get scrambled when I travel, but I return to the norm quickly.
There is the work around my house and my place up in the Thumb of Michigan which takes up a lot of my time.
This October will be the 40th year reunion for my high school graduating class. I am part of the organizing committee. While it doesn't take up a lot of my time, the time it takes is often in conflict with other things and as you only have a 40 year reunion once, that seems to win out.
I am once again running the Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon, also in October. This year I am running to raise money to fight human trafficking.
My fund raising page is here.
This year it is especially important for me to get in my miles, because not only am I running that half marathon in October, I am running a full marathon at Disney World in January!
Additionally, I gave my wife dance lessons for her and I for Mother's Day. She hasn't taken me up on them just yet, but the offer is still hanging out there.
With all of this, something has to give and sadly BJJ is taking a back seat. I am only making it to a handful of classes a month. I hope to get some private lessons in from time to time, but it's not really until autumn, after the yardwork, reunion and half marathon are out of the way that I can really start getting decent time on the mat again.
What I am doing in the meantime is putting more emphasis on zhan zhuang (which is good for everything) and the five elements forms of xingyiquan.