I Ching & The Jack in the Box Taco

Thinking about ultimate wisdom.

Today I went to the doctor and he told me that maybe that it’s not diabetes that is making my toes tingle. I took it as good news. So I will go through some neurological tests and rebalance my meds. But what if it were cancer instead? In fact we talked about prostate cancer, which my father has survived. He tells me there is news from the medical bigwigs that there is controversy surrounding the PSA screening as it is done nowadays. It breaks down like this: If you’ve got a bad case, early screening will help but it’s very likely going to kill you anyway. If you’ve got a mild case, which most men do, early screening doesn’t help and you’re very likely to survive anyway because it kills you slowly. Faster than BigMacs and fries for breakfast, but shorter than the resultant heart attack. I decided to not take the test. One thing at a time.

Everything is killing us slowly. Time keeps on slipping into a future where not all of us belong. One kind of wisdom helps you deal with your mortality and the brevity of life in general. That is one kind I think I am approaching, among others.

My current cloud customer is a healthcare provider and so I am migrating all of their data. There is no code on the planet which is more convoluted than the mass accumulations of Oracle stored procedures that track medical insurance payments, claims and disputations. I’ sure it was easier to run Chernobyl. I’m fixing what’s broke and I’m also thinking about what would have had to transpire so it wouldn’t have broken in the first place. So of course I’m fighting with my mind to remain focused on stomping out bugs while restraining my anger at the people who left the food on the floor and the door wide open that attracted the roaches in the first place. So for the hell of it, I ran my I Ching app to tell me which way the wind might blow with this work I face. I rang a 0A, which is Hexagram 10: ‘Right Conduct’.

Treading on the tail of the tiger. It does not bite. There will be progress.

There is no need whatsoever for me to apply mystical incantations over my code. It’s entirely whimsical. There’s entirely no need for me to swing a dead chicken around before I get my bloodwork back from LabCorp next week. But I should be prepared in either case for any eventuality. I will handle any result rationally to the best of my ability, I also know that there are unknowns in any prognostication. Fog of war, contact with the enemy and all that, right? It occurs to me that it really doesn’t matter what the irrational method of prediction might be. It doesn’t indicate cause or effect and it doesn’t change the actual odds.

However if I bother to consider the random, superstitious prediction just for the additional soul-warming calm or additional frosty awareness it gives my mind for that brief moment, I am additionally prepared. That is to say if I can handle any eventuality in recognition of the unknown unknowns of the future, I come out ahead. How about that?

From this angle it sounds like ancient Chinese secrets, huh? Maybe there is really something to consider about the possible benefits of a marginal contingency, or as I like to call it a ‘hedge taco’. Indulge me a little story. Back in 2015, I participated in the FBI Citizens’ Academy down at the Federal Building on Wilshire in West LA. After each of our weekly sessions, a couple of the participants were slated to be responsible for the potluck served in the foyer of the conference center. Chances are that people can cook or people cannot cook or something might go superlatively beyond a reasonable confidence interval. But a Jack in the Box taco is a hard reliable quantity, something cheap, fresh, hot and available. I got burned several times with the buffet, so I got in the habit of eating a hedge taco ahead of time. The downside is that something marvelous would be served, in which case I would never get to eat as much as I wanted anyway. Besides, I like Jack in the Box tacos. So there’s always the marginal upside which is magnified when inexcusable slop is prepared for our poor hungry citizens.

Putting myself in the shoes of Mr. Ching or whatever the name of the individual or committee that first started interpreting thrown coins in China, I propose that the ulterior motive was discipline beyond divination. In other words, says Mr. Ching, I’m going to consider the impossible just for the hell of it. I’m going to consider the random hexagram out of the 64 possibilities just for the discipline of how it makes me think outside of the box. Why? Because I’m on the path to wisdom and absolute certainty is the enemy of reasonable preparation.

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I like the expression “I’m willing to die on this hill.” It is one of the corresponding decisions in response to “Choose your battles wisely.” It might be foolish to choose that particular hill on that particular day. It might be an act of courage. The universe doesn’t care either way. Allowing yourself to care in a random, counter-intuitive way is a mental exercise that must have value to the truly wise. I think that’s called being ready for anything.