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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Musashi, Yom Kippur, & WINning

Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary (in many senses) author of the Book of Five Rings holds as one of his key precepts "Do nothing which is of no use"

Tony Blauer once shared an acronym with me (I don't know where it came from): W.I.N. What's Important Now?

Both phrases were rattling around in my head over the weekend.

For those who don't know, this past weekend was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement which marks the end of the High Holy days, and the beginning of a new Jewish year. The details aren't incredibly important, save that the holiday basically boils down to fasting and praying for a day. (Yes, it's WAY more detailed than that, but this is not a blog on theology.)

I went into the holiday a bit grumpy and irritated, my mind weighed down with some reasonably large concerns, and some downright stupid ones. As is often true with these thigns, it was the stupid things that somehow were weighing more. Idiotic internet arguments and other random stresses served to drag me down and make me cranky. Of course, I say they were dumb in retrospect, but at the time, they seriously bothered me. And were honestly impacting my thoughts and feelings during the holiday.

Of the course of the day, somehow, Musashi's quote came into my consciousness, accompanied by the realization that some of the things I was worrying about were, in fact, useless. That the discussions were useless. That there were a number of places where I was expending mental energy to no particular point or purpose. So I let them go.

I traditionally make New Year's goals for myself (often pretty ambitious ones), but this year, I didn't. At the time, I just couldn't think of anything. Now I think I have. So I will set a goal for the Jewish New Year, if not for the Julian one.

The goal is simple: as much as possible, follow Musashi's precept. Do Nothing Which Is Of No Use. That does not mean all work and no play, for play has a use and purpose. But if something causes me stress or anxiety, and does not benefit me in return, then it must go. If something simply wastes my time to no real gain, it must go.

It's a simple goal, but also an ambitious one. I have no idea how it will go, but I'll give it a shot.

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