I’ve been distracted from reading. It’s amazing that I have to fight so hard to carve out the time, as much against myself as circumstance.
I picked up Wang Bi’s third century commentary on the Laozi again. He has such a subtle mind. To write a commentary without imprisoning the original text is, perhaps, an impossible task. But he comes as close as one can hope. As someone who spent most of my life doing nothing but reading commentaries, I am impressed with how reluctant he is to confine Laozi’s words even to his own interpretation. This is due in no small part to the nature not only of Laozi’s writing, which is more like poetry than prose, but to his world view, the foundation of which is beyond names.
My own mind is not subtle enough to do much with his text, at least not in the way I used to pretend to in graduate school. I feel more like the layman who reads scripture and says this speaks to me. And so this speaks to me: “Being good at making quick progress lies in not hurrying, and being good reaching goals lies in not forcing one’s way.” Perhaps this is all the more powerful to me now as I consider how many years have passed and how little time is left.