What To Do With 10,000 Things {Guest Post: Bob Griffith}

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I want to introduce you to a fine gentleman who has been participating in our Tao Tuesdays. His name is Bob Griffith and his blog is called The Cascadian Wanderer. Bob has been writing for many years. His blog title speaks to his current life situation, where he is free to wander the Cascade Mountain region in Oregon, US, with his wife Lenore and his dog, Charlie.

Bob’s writing style has the path of a wandering stream, giving us nuggets of ideas to whet our appetite for life. I will let him speak for himself…

What To Do With 10,000 Things {Guest Post: Bob Griffith}


Fractionate, distill, dilute, transpose, translate, dissect, rearrange, transmute, intuit, feel, sense, divine, combine, shred, worry, assemble, measure, time, assess, weigh, balance… To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Amy has invited me to post here. Her invitation is to blame for what follows, and I am completely blameless and not responsible. I invoke the privileges of my age. I can dodder and wander because I am a geezer, and geezers do that. We wander along the water’s edge in baggy pants with a bag full of crumbs, and cast our bread upon the waters. We mumble incantations reminiscent of some type of spiritual Tourette’s syndrome. We seize unwitting passers-by and bewilder them with momentary howls of odd wisdoms and then turn them loose, forgetting what we were doing in the previous moment, and why. Our basic nature and long season of unique nurture have conspired to streamline and jumble the synapses of our cognition. At our best we make odd sense, at our worst… Well, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen here.

Amy’s invitation to pick whatever I want and her faith that it would be fun and good led me to respond that I would like to do that and we could see together what transpired as the breath of inspiration returned to the air.
While I waited for inspiration I caught myself holding my breath.
It was the fun and good expectation thing. God knows I have demonstrated the ability to be neither countless times.
I know better than to do that, to hold my breath. I’ve experienced, observed, registered and catalogued a lot of stuff in my years. I’ve developed a conscious recognition of the choices that pop up in life, and have a good grip on which choices prove to work out for me. Eggs or pancakes, doorway or wall, resentment or acceptance, hallucination or reality, separation or union. Fret or relax.
It feels like I know a lot. And yet the conscious reminder I give myself, the phrase I see printed in my mind like a visual mantra, the thing that delivers me back to a point of peace when I have wandered away, is this:

“i can say one thing with absolute certainty: “i” do not know.”

If the small case i is baffling, think about it later. I’ll give you a hint. It’s about the words part of me, and the Tao Te Ching informs us all of the word thing, and how it works, and how it doesn’t.
The point is, I don’t know what the next offered choice will be. I don’t know what I’ll choose, how I’ll act or react. There are times when I think that my age and experience and conscious awareness should have given me the ability to reflexively respond “correctly” and with grace to every single thing I feel I am confronted with. On certain days I am downright grumpy about the omission of my own total enlightenment in this incarnation and unkindly disposed to growl and grouse about it.
Because I still encounter things I feel are grotesque or ghastly or infuriating or just plain wrong by my lights. At times I feel the things I encounter are holding the potential for judgment and rejection and marginalization of myself or others. My first response?
I hold my breath. And acceptance and peace and grace go begging.
I hold my breath, and everything seizes up. Alarms start going off below the threshold of consciousness. Somewhere, something detects an anomaly that, if not corrected, will lead to oxygen deprivation and an abrupt and unscheduled collision with whatever hard and unyielding objects are between me and gravity. I begin to worry about my hips. Geezers do that.
It gets worse. I begin to worry about it all. And soon that good old feeling of impending doom appears. It’s really weird how pressurized my chest gets when I’m holding my breath. Pretty soon it spreads and my head feels like it’s going to explode. My geezer klaxons go off, warning me of imminent harm, advising me to immediately vacate the premises I am occupying. Where does all this stuff come from? Can holding your breath really do all this?
A mentor of mine, an anonymous and strangely unself-conscious master in an odd wrapper, gave me a tool for this long ago.
“You know that feeling of impending doom?” he asked, “You know what that is?”
He waited for a beat, but not long enough for an answer, and then proclaimed, “That’s a feeling of impending doom, that’s all that is!”
Then he roared with laughter and dug out a huge wad of chewing tobacco from behind his cowboy mustache and shot it across the room. It landed on the potbelly stove next to me and sizzled there like the new awareness sizzling in me. In that moment the light appeared. I sighed a deep breath of relief then, and experienced a sudden peace in the empty fullness that remained.
It’s just a feeling. That’s all that is. It’s not a pain to fight or flee, it’s not a goad, it’s not a trumpet call to action. It’s a feeling. It will pass. The tool, the trick, the solution is simple. Just let it go. Breathe it out.
For many years after that I had an old postcard thumb-tacked to my office wall. It said, “Don’t forget to breathe.”

What to do with 10,000 things? Breathe them in, let them fill you up. Breathe them out, let them go. Rest in the empty fullness between.

Fractionate, distill, dilute, transpose, translate, dissect, rearrange, transmute, intuit, feel, sense, divine, combine, shred, worry, assemble, measure, time, assess, weigh, balance… To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Just don’t forget to breathe.


  1. Oh my. Thank you Amy. My wandering way and your sweet characterization of my writing (and my path)as a wandering stream is very kind, and very astute, too.

    Sometimes I still manage to nail one foot to the riverbed, hit the throttle, and throw a perfectly circular rooster tail around me which, when viewed from the top, resembles nothing so much as a manic guy running madly around the wall of a whirlpool circling a drain. But I carry a claw hammer in my tool box and as soon as I remember it I pull the nail and wander on gently down the stream…

    Namaste’, Amy. B.
    Bob G recently posted…Welcome to The Cascadian WandererMy Profile

  2. This medium we speak in can be so difficult to express ourselves in and connect with one another, not like the face-to-face interaction where nuances communicate as much as words.

    When I feel the connection is made, I get a calm feeling and discover I have a big smile on my face. A big, goofy, happy smile.

    Big smile here. BIG smile.

    • I get what you are saying. This online medium is challenging for those of us who prefer the one-on-one and the deeper connections that can be made. A LIKE on FB is so impersonal! lol… I don’t think that there will ever be a way that really tops a real person conversation, but our writing can touch people sometimes in ways that even a personal conversation can’t do. Some people have learned to hide their inner worlds and our writing can perhaps help some of them access it just a bit in their private space. I love books. Sometimes books can make me think about things that I never would have realized. I can learn about different ways of viewing the world. An author is able to touch many thousands of lives this way. Your work is wonderful, Bob. I love the way your words are like dancing, or meandering streams of thought – depending on the moment. I would have to agree that it was nice to meet you. 🙂

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