Saturday, July 10, 2010

"It never hurts to consult the oracle."

I'm cheating a bit and jumping ahead: tomorrow's horoscope begins with asking me why nobody has ever thought to put mac and cheese in a taco shell. I think food is following me.

If I haven't already made this clear - I don't take horoscopes seriously. Fortune telling has always been a carnival trick to me. You could call me a hypocrite after a cursory glance around my apartment due to the presence of The Complete I Ching and my Arthurian tarot cards (you'd be surprised at my actual knowledge of Wicca during my "I'm going to study every religion/faith/whatever" phase). But don't worry, I never make a decision based on what a coin or a card says. It doesn't mean I'm not utterly fascinated by those concepts though.

Cheever always reminded us that the I Ching existed to tell you where you were in life, in the universe, in the bigger picture of everything. It wouldn't give us a magical answer or pull us down the path to perfection. It was a guideline, an ancient Chinese text at the core of Chinese philosophy. One of the first books I packed away when moving to college was The Complete I Ching, not because I planned on relying on it for the next four years of my life, but because I was still trying to grasp this definitive translation. (I also bought a deck of I Ching cards at a used bookstore, so I'm not sure how seriously you can take me.)

It never hurts to consult the oracle. Sounds like a line out of The Matrix, huh? Let's see where I am in this vast, complicated universe.

Gua 21: Shi He, Eradicating: "When things are worthy of careful attention, surely people will draw close together. Thus, after Watching, closing together follows." Removing obstructions in a peaceful community. Sometimes punishment is necessary. Clear in mind. Firm in action. Attitude should still be compassionate.

Okay. So that means absolutely nothing in that weird, truncated Sparknotes summary I've babbled onto the web. But when I think about it, it makes sense.

I'm terrible at being assertive. I hate demanding things. I was raised to be, and let's be honest here, slightly submissive. Is it an "Asian thing"? Possibly. Born leaders, we Lees are not. We do what we're told and my self-consciousness causes me to believe I have no real authority to tell others what to do, even if it's my job. This leads me to send up S.O.S. signals all too often, hence my firm belief in "faking it til you make it." Now if only someone would tell me when I've "made it"...

I've started to become more assertive over the course of the past three years though, I think - mainly because my patience has worn out and it's quite possible I've just turned into an obnoxious and intolerant bitch. Or maybe, you know, that thing called "growing up"...whatever that means. John said something once awhile ago while we had lunch: "having responsibilities" and "growing up" aren't the same thing. Which makes total sense when you really think about it: you can collect all of the duties and jobs in the world but it doesn't make you a grown up nor does it make you mature. In order to grow up, learn when to say "no" and when to remove the obstructions from your life that prevent you from moving forward. Learn to put your foot down and be assertive. Stop allowing your fears of speaking up and creating potentially awkward situations from becoming a stronger person. I don't think I've finally started to "grow up" until very recently. And in "growing up" and removing those obstructions, you can find new experiences and new people and embark on a strange and wonderful journey filled.

Though, for the record, I have thought about mac and cheese in a taco shell. I don't think it'd be very good at all.


  1. i've been feeling a need to consult that big mysterious book myself, though I lack the courage. apathy and cowardice are often connected. fortunately though, your own consultation of the i ching is telling me some useful stuff. your words about growing up are so dead on...i've felt so immature lately and i think it's because i'm rebelling and struggling to find out which of my many responsibilities i care about. thanks for posting! i hope to actually talk with you soon.

  2. Mac & cheese with hamburger is my special - but both in a taco shell? It needs exploring. Let's have a "cooking" day.

    The only I Ching I'm familiar with is in The Amber Spyglass when scientist ex-nun Mary sheepishly uses it to guide her path in the third book of His Dark Materials. There's a curious balance between fatalistic obedience to these mysterious Instructions From Beyond and the free will to follow them (or not). I see them as less direct orders to follow than intelligent directions to live life by - cheap and pithy aphorisms, sure, but nuggets of wisdom if you can relate it to your experience. I like that about old pseudoreligious and religious beliefs: people were just trying to figure out things in their world and had to stretch their imaginations to find common ground from an abundance of individual experiences.

    I'm glad you've grown in conviction - it gives hope for those of us who have not grown enough in that respect.

    Nobody tells you when you've made it. You just realize. Hypothetically.