Friday, October 30, 2015

A Poem Draft

This is a small joke that became a long joke, based on the opening of the Daodejing or Tao te ching.

The Tao at the Party

Snackable snacks are not enduring snacks.
Conversible conversation is not unvarying conversation.
What you can't have conversations about is the whole party.
What you can have conversations about is a lot of separate topics.
When people are quiet, you get what people don't say.
When people are babbling, you get just sound.
The two amount to the same;
they just show up differently in conversation.
That they are the same
is what people don't say.
Saying nothing about saying nothing:
that's how you do things right.

People treat fun as doing fun things.
That's boring.
People treat niceness as doing nice things.
That's mean.
Being quiet and babbling come from each other;
pleasant and unpleasant come from each other;
tiresome and engaging come from each other;
exciting and unexciting come from each other.
Music is differing sounds come together:
start with one side, you get the other side.
So the host will stay above it all,
guiding things without trying to force them.
It's not forcing them that makes it all work.

If you don't play favorites, you won't get resentment.
If you don't boast, you won't get jealousy.
If you don't try to please, you won't get restlessness.
So the host keeps things simple,
fills people's stomachs,
quiets their irritations,
and encourages them to stay.
The host doesn't try to please them or force things,
and those who are trying to force things
will learn that doesn't work.
It's not forcing things that makes it all come together.

Snacks are done well when there's always a bit more --
a lot of them! --
and they serve as starting-points for a lot of different topics.
They make things less uncomfortable,
solve difficulties,
tone things down,
and eliminate arguments.
There have to be lots!
Have some left over.
With snacks, no one cares who was invited,
or how long the party has been going on.

The whole party is not interesting;
it goes on as if people don't matter.
The host is not interesting
and treats everything as if it didn't matter.
When you take in the whole party, it's like a balloon:
you get more out of it when you don't try to take it in.
Spending all your time talking about it
is not sensible.

A swimming pool holds all the swimmers;
people just don't focus on it.
It's like the whole party:
it's there.
Work within it but don't bother about it.

The whole party is always there.
The reason it's always there
is that it doesn't do anything.
It just goes on.
Likewise, the host is the least important and most important person;
the host is just a function, not a person at the party,
and it's by not being one of the people at a party
that the host is the most important person at the party.

Entertainment is fluid;
it goes where it's needed without any effort,
and can work in any situation.
A bit like snacks, really.
If you throw a party, just do it where you can.
If you plan a party, just keep calm about it.
Good jokes require timing.
Good discussion requires sincerity.
Hosting requires keeping your head about you.
Solving problems requires seeing what they are.
If you don't freak out, what problems will you have?

Trying to keep control of things
is not as good as letting them go.
If you keep sharpening a knife, you ruin it;
if you keep collecting things, you lose them.
Working to throw a great party kills the party.
When you've laid it all out, just relax.
That's why you have snacks.

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