Yin-yang... and the pleasure of fish
by, June 30th, 2012 at 12:12 AM (319 Views)
I was preparing for my Humanities summer school class this morning and was going through this essay on Daoism on the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art website:
"Daoism and Daoist Art"
I was struck by the association of the Daoist yin and yang with shade and light (among other dualities, such as water-fire, east-west, etc.). The image of shade and light stuck with me as I remembered my swim yesterday in the late afternoon on the lake... The water was pretty cloudy as it has been often this year, but their were moments of clarity. In one such moment I noticed a small fish swimming in and out of the shadow of a buoy. My fish encounters have been few and far between so far this open water season... maybe the water is still too cool for them, or maybe I can't see them as well because the water is not as clear.
Light plays with shade, and shade with light in that cosmic balance... what the author of the essay wonderfully expresses as "alternating phases of cosmic energy." It reminds me that you can work really hard against the natural order and not get very far... or you can appreciate the flux and flow, take what nature gives you. That's "taking" in the sense of rolling with the punches, not "taking" in the sense of ransacking.
It was definitely one of those days on the water: adjusting, shortening the stroke to deal with the rolling of the current head on. With water crashing over my head and shoulders, I breathed at odd times, found new ways to sight, then stretched out my stroke after the turn around. I also enjoyed the patches of cooler water being replaced by warmer water as the lake churned, only to bring back another cool patch. I wondered about "my" fish, native to this element, playing with the shade of a buoy. I still marvel at their design... how awkward humans seem in comparison to them in the water. See this remarkable thirteenth-century illustrated scroll, aptly entitled "The Pleasure of Fishes," for a Daoist rendering:
Zhou Donqing, handscroll
But we have our pleasure here, in the water, too...
Just keep swimming!