For more than twenty years I believed that our dear English friend Louie came up with the phrase “Wherever you go, there you are.” I’ve learned that not only did Confucius say it, but dozens of writers use it as titles on their blogs, and mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote a book with Confucius’ words as the title. It has been centuries since Confucius (551-479 BCE) made that astute observation, so plagarism isn’t an issue.
I learned all this in the most roundabout way. I requested permission to quote from Kevin O’Keefe’s “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” post, “Blog to people, not at people.” His words about blogging resonated: “I was taught to blog as if it were a conversation. … At times I have thought of blogging as letter writing. The kind we did by hand from college forty years ago. At other times, I have thought of blogging as being the late night DJ talking to a radio audience of one. … Blogging is about getting to know each other. Developing trust. Developing relationships. Developing reputations. This requires a conversation. Writing to people, not at people.”
O’Keefe referred me to author and business consultant Euan Semple, “The Obvious,” who approved my request to use his thoughts about good writing: “Good writing is more like letter writing. It is written to you not at you. It draws you closer, is offered to you deferentially, like two people who know and trust each other having a conversation, taking turns, listening as much as talking. It is our natural way of writing. …”
Semple referred me to John Kabat-Zinn I didn’t know — duh-h — until I Googled the mindfulness guru about the book he’d written in 1994, “Wherever you go, there you are.” It’s still in print and I’ll have a copy for myself before another sunset. Here’s one of many memorable quotes: “Wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind, Whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handle it?”
Kabat-Zinn, the father of modern-day mindfulness, further defines the practice like this: “Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” He also says, “Writing can be an incredible mindfulness practice.”
Ooo, I like that!
Old Confucius offered another twist on the words so many of us use: “Wherever you go, go with all of your heart.”
No sooner did I decide I’d polished this post enough,
than I got a surprise.
At our recent writers’ group meeting,
writer/friend John handed me a book.
“Look what I found!” he said.
It was a copy of Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever you go, there you are.
My friend didn’t know I’d been planning this post
nor that I wanted a copy of the book.