Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Birthday Post

Months pass, days pile up
like one intoxicating dream
an old man sighs.
- Ryokan
Today is my birthday. Won’t you help me celebrate?

Today I am celebrating another successful trip around the sun. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for all of my loved ones. 2019 has been a rough year on the family.

We lost my father in law and a brother in law due to old and and extended illnesses. There were a couple of distant relatives who passed as well.

What was harder to take was the passing of my sister in law whom I wrote about last year. She had Glioblastoma, the brain cancer that afflicted Sen McCain. She passed 14 months after her diagnosis, which is about average for the general population.

Her life was never the same since the day she felt that she needed to see a doctor. I’m sure that she had her private moments, but we never saw her complain. We never saw her ask “why me?”

Instead she was thankful for the time she could spend with her family and friends. She only showed endless gratitude.

The day that will stick with me the most was Opening Day for the 2019 Detroit Tigers baseball season. She was a great baseball fan.

My wife and I stopped over to see her. It was a beautiful day. She was watching the game with her husband. The window was open and it was as pleasant as it could be.

Unplanned, several of her closest friends stopped over as well. Her husband and I retreated to the garage to sit outside, enjoy a beer and listen to the happy chatter and laughter coming from her bedroom. She had a great day.

A few years ago, the company I worked for decided to close the division that employed me and I ended up with a job at a small trade association. We had a staff of four and a board of directors made up of members to provide oversight.

I leaned that November that the board of directors wanted to “shake things up.” When you have a staff of only four people, any shaking resembles an earthquake. I knew that I needed to begin looking for another job.

It’s not easy looking for another job when you’re in your 60’s. At least doing a job search while I had one helped, but it was tough going. I had plenty of interviews and a few offers, but I typically low-balled. It was discouraging.

I finally began talking to two companies in particular in Spring. I had worked for one of them before, about 10 years ago. I knew them. They knew me. It would be easy to slide right in there. The office was actually closer to home than the trade association.

The other was a European based company with a small staff in the US. I’d work from home. I’d have to prove myself all over again, but there was the allure of going to Europe a couple of times a year.

Around the fourth of July, the board of directors eliminated the position of one of my colleagues. I knew that I was next, so I needed to close the deal with one of these two companies, but which one?

My Dad once told me that in a situation like this, I should flip a coin and see how I felt about it. I decided to do Dad a few times better and throw three coins, six times. This seemed to be a perfect question for the I Ching. Whatever came up would have to be interpreted by me, which would help me to clarify my thoughts and feelings.

Iching-hexagram-24.svgIching-hexagram-01.svgThe hexagram I threw was #24, Return, with all the broken lines moving. This resulted in the final hexagram #1, Creative.

I chose the company that I used to work for. I began my new position as a field application engineer around the end of July. I am enjoying myself a great deal. They didn’t have this position before and I am having an impact. All the signs say that this was a good move.


I wrote a year ago that I had reconnected with my original taijiquan teacher who was a student of Cheng Man Ching in New York, back in the 70’s, Carol Yamasaki. I showed up just in the nick of time. Due to some health issues, Carol has recently turned teaching over to one of her senior students, who is well regarded teacher in his own right, Bret Hall. Unfortunately, I only seem to be able to make it out to class is once or twice a month.

For the last year, I’ve also been supplementing my practice with exercises and drills from another branch of the CMC lineage which can be found at Adam Mizner’s Youtube channel, along with renewed focus on the standing practice, or zhan zhuang. Mizner also has a distance learning course that is well thought out and presented.

Practice continues to go well. I’ve found that life just works better when I’m practicing regularly.

I would normally wake up an hour before I really needed to get ready for work to drink my coffee at a leisurely pace, watch the news, catch up on social media, etc. For the past several years I have been getting up an extra hour early to either run (which I since dropped but may return to) or practice taijiquan.

I’ve recently begun making that an extra 90 minutes early to make certain that I can consistently work on all of that material I want to practice.

I mentioned that I had dropped running. At my previous job, I didn’t have either short or long term disability insurance. I began to worry about doing damage to my joints that would require some sort of medical intervention after messing up my feet the previous year. Fine, I stopped running but put my focus into taijiquan.

Recently the Mrs has been wanting to find a health club with a real track that we could both go to for the winter. She likes to walk, and I could begin running again on a surface that would be much better for my joint health than the streets and sidewalks. So far, we haven’t turned anything up, but will keep looking.

Writing of the Mrs, this month we are going to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary. Somehow, I think that we must be doing something right.

I have come to the conclusion that the secret of a long, happy marriage is this: Every morning I look my wife in the eye and tell her: “I’m sorry, I was wrong and it will never happen again.” Then I leave the house for the day.

My two daughters are healthy, happy and prosperous. As I write this, the younger one is a few days away from running a half marathon with a broken little toe.


walt said...

Dude! Your life sounds rich, and full -- it's a GOOD sound! Thanks for the update.

My limited experience with the I Ching sez: When you get #1 THE CREATIVE, it indicates big things a-brewin' -- like a strong 'Do' at the start of an octave. Strong yang.

Happy birthday, and many more ahead!

Rick Matz said...

Thank you, Walt!

Life is good.