Qián Guānchāng

I have a great deal of empathy for the character of Kwai Chang Caine, it started when I used to watch the TV series Kung Fu. I was very heavily drawn to it as teenager and my family used to talk a lot over the programme, which pissed me off. The whole life of Caine changed when he killed a relative of the emperor, he had offended the authorities and was then to be hunted down. He carried the crouching tiger and hidden dragon of a Shaolin priest. Thereafter he wandered, encountering prejudice, adventure and lending a hand wherever he could. He was searching and itinerant. Often he came up against the corrupt and the bullies. But always there was that sense of moving on, a kind of restlessness, he knew when he was done with a particular scenario and the Dao then called him on. The idea of a trained priest and martial artist touched something in me, a core of sorts. It was Bodhidharma who is credited with founding “Shaolin”. He is also the patriarch of Zen.

There was a kind of loose thematic prescience to my fascination. But it also spoke in feeling and nuance terms of something I had buried in my pasts. There was always that impermanence, and its very now-ness about him. But the tendrils of the past and those he had offended were always somehow on his tail.

He knew when he was finished with a circumstance and much like one squeezes toothpaste out of a tube, the Dao squeezed him out and on his way. I feel this now, I am ready to leave this place, as stunning as the scenery maybe. It is not to become a home.

And like Caine I must soon be on my way.

The ancient adepts of the Tao

The ancient adepts of the Tao were subtle and flexible, profound and comprehensive.

Their minds were too deep to be fathomed.


Because they are unfathomable,

One can only describe them vaguely by their appearance.


Hesitant like one wading a stream in winter;

Timid like one afraid of his neighbours on all sides;

Cautious and courteous like a guest;

Yielding like ice on the point of melting;

Simple like an uncarved block;

Hollow like a cave;

Confused like a muddy pool;

And yet who could quietly and gradually evolve from the muddy to the clear?

Who else could slowly but steadily move from the inert to the living?


He who keeps the Tao does not want to be full.

But precisely because he is never full,

He can always remain like a hidden sprout,

And does not rush to early ripening.

Earthly Sojourn and Dao

Do you really think
She’ll pull through?
Girlfriend in a coma, I know
I know – it’s serious

The Smiths

So far this has been a strange old year and out there, away from the farm, the planning blight of Brexit hangs like a fog, a cloud. All that internecine bickering, power struggles and squabbling has set the tone for the UK. I have been looking at ways to get out of Dodge. That self-important “we are so much better than Europe”, misguided mentality of a post imperial power, colours. Squabble, bicker, argue, self-promote and opine; that is the UK in the 21st century. I find myself at a juncture and this juncture started when I got the two years no evidence of disease news around the middle of the year. It looks like I am going to live after all so the question; “what am I going to do with the remainder of this earthly sojourn?” came to the fore. And it is a question, to which, I have no answer.

Over the past few years I have been privately tutoring 16-18 year olds in Physics and Chemistry. The experience has been good, I have had some good students with an interesting variety of characters. But this year, things have started to change. It hasn’t gone as smoothly. The exam boards, in an effort to make the exams harder, have made the marking even more prescriptive, especially in Chemistry. If you don’t use the exact catchphrase prescribed, no marks. There is little benefit of the doubt and no attempt at trying to understand what the student has said. I do not want to train parrots.  A veil of pallor has snuck into even this benign activity. I have put off new clients and am effectively unemployed. I have resigned from my self-employment, kind of. I could pick this up for the new year. I don’t feel a strong urge to face another A level paper, at time of writing.

Over the summer I looked into starting another high technology business. {I have done one before} As an exploration I started into the entrepreneurship arena and looked into quantum computing and quantum cryptography. I read loads of papers and patents. I even came up with a patentable idea for a novel entangled pair photon source. It took a while to get the grey matter working, and dreaming of matrices was a side-effect. The mood, the flavour, the temperature in this country was not receptive to me. I am not a member of the club and in any case the “word” may be out about me. In Europe it was much better. I met some nice helpful people there. There are two major showstoppers, no recent track record and the price of key man insurance for a cancer patient, which is high. My assessment was that the ideas I had were more like a research project than something I could pitch to VCs. Because I am not institutionalised I cannot apply for research funding. This now is on the tiniest back-burner in some dark corner of the stove.

I have had a go at self-publishing using Kindle Direct as a kind of pipe cleaner. It was simple, and those guys have made it almost a pleasure. The book and eBook can be found by following the link on the About page. I have plenty of stuff gleaned from various blogs I have done over the years which I could, with some editing, publish. There are hundreds of poems etc. I am a bit of a squirrel.

What I am looking for is the Dao, right now the Dao says doldrums, pause, wait. If something is meant to be the Dao opens a way, not necessarily without obstacles but neither overwhelmed by them. There is a feeling to it, a breeze one can sense. Last autumn, I looked into martial arts and lo and behold there was an Aikido class down in the village. This kind of synchronicity cannot be ignored. So, the wife and I started Aikido training in our early fifties. The pull of the mat was strong for me after a 17-year absence. It has awoken many body memories and can only have benefits as we move towards dotage. One can make ukemi rather than break a hip.

The question remains; what shall I do with the rest of this earthly sojourn?

On a pragmatic level, the cash burn is there, it isn’t biting deep to the bone yet. But it is biting. It is time then for the fifth aspect of the stalker’s rule:

Whenever faced with impossible odds, a warrior opens himself up to the world around him by allowing his mind to become occupied with the little details of life.

with the wood being

a plaintive buzzard
humming pylons
on the flute of silence

autumnal curtains
in a leaf-river canoe

on my stump
an Aeolian breeze
and a ghost of diagnosis

beyond my mind
the leaves shimmer

and when
the Dao whispers
… it is time
to go