Tao Te Ching Ring.

I’m not friends with M because she’s a MixMistress extraordinaire at one of the local pubs; I’m friends with M because she has a uniquely deranged mind and is funny as hell. She’s also an amazing photographer - she shoots with these bizzare old-school cameras that give her pics an authentic vintage vibe. Plus, her family and friends are a hoot to be around. Yes, there is much to love about M besides her formidable skills behind the bar.

Still, I have to admit, being friends with a bartender comes with some significant perks. Like, when they drop by your house and bring over “just a couple of things,” it ends up looking like this. I’ll be honest - I’m not entirely sure what all was in this brew that M whipped up at my kitchen table last Saturday. There was peach iced tea, black currant liqueur, Lillet, bourbon, citrus zest, and a variety of muddled berries and fruit... Mmmm... Muddled...

I love how M wields her muddler with such aggressive authority. Everyone! Five times fast! MixMistress M manages the Mister Mojito muddler masterfully!

Oh, and the drinks also had fire in them, and not just from the bourbon. I don’t know exactly how M ignited these citrus peels and made them go “fwoosh!” but it was AWESOME. Plus, M had the honor of using my new bigfoot lighter, which is currently my favorite accessory in the world. The fact that the fire came from my bigfoot lighter definitely had an impact on the taste of the drinks. Why is this true? Because I believe it in my head to be true, silly.

As M and I drank her delicious concoction, we had an especially nice conversation about the Tao Te Ching. We chatted about what a wonderful philosophical text it was because of its intimacy with nature, and because - at 10,000 words of simple and beautiful poetry - it’s pretty accessible. We then decided that it would be a good idea to honor the Tao by appreciating some nature, so, drinks in hand, we set out on a hike down the fire road near the hippie cabin.

We went to the end of the lane and back, enjoying the birds and squirrels and lizards. The trees were tall and the sun was warm and my drink was cold and I was walking and thinking about how easy it was to move forward when you don’t worry too much about where your feet will land next. I was very much in the moment, and enjoying it immensely.

That's when things got weird.

What's that? There! Sparkling on the ground...

A silver ring - thick metal twisted into an infinity loop. Lower left. See?

I bent over and picked it up. The ring was dirty, but I could see that it had words engraved all the way around it.

“Good eyes,” said M, glancing at the piece of silver in my hands. “What does it say?”

I brushed the dirt away to reveal the words. I read:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

“Cool!” said M, but I didn’t speak. “What’s wrong?” she asked me.

“This is from the Tao.” I said. “It’s the most famous quote in the entire text.”

“You’re not serious...”

Oh, I'm serious, all right. From the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 64:

The tree as wide as a man's embrace grows from a tiny sapling.
The tower of nine levels starts as a heap of dirt.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Now I don’t pretend for a minute to know how the universe works. But stuff like this makes me think that The Matrix likes to mess with people’s heads when they're a little buzzed.

The whole episode reminds me yet again that things fold back upon themselves - you never know when you might find something on the journey back that you overlooked on the journey out.


  1. You better take that ring and throw it in the volcano.

  2. They call me... "M"August 6, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    Thank you Operator!!! <3

  3. Don't touch your television set - we'll restore access to you shortly:

    Meanwhile, let's set our for a walk into the OUTER LIMITS - and don't be surprised when you discover the meaning of the Tao this episode!

  4. I hope you are writing thick books I can hold, caress, get lost in and grow old with. . .If not, get started!! The "old" part is just around the corner. By the way, this divine Miss M is very dear to my heart.

  5. Dave, I had no idea that the "outer limits" meant the fire road next to my house. Who knew! Anonymous, I'm working on those books - future classics of American literature, to be sure - but getting someone to publish them is another story entirely. I guess that's up to The Operator, as M and I both know. If, however, The Operator doesn't come through for me, maybe I'll take your advice, Jonny, and throw that ring into the depths of Mordor...