Chinese Fire Sale!

To prepare for their upcoming Mississippi Float Trip, Phillip and Ryan are fengshui-ing their house, i.e. throwing out all the shit they don’t need.  I think that’s the direct Chinese translation.  

Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.
Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.

We are moving crap out of Phillip’s house at the moment (selling it, giving it and begging it away) so when he’s got his crap together… interesting, getting rid of crap and getting crap together, one crap – good, other crap – bad… there will be no attachments.

I believe the Mississippi Trip will be much like that – no attachments.  A union with nature.  Now I don’t want to turn into a tree-hugging, fancy boy here but I do believe there is something to union with nature.  There is a certain peace that can be found by having less and less attachment to things.  Perhaps (only speculating here) my constant moving around, refusal to take pictures or carry pictures, refusal to buy anything I don’t really really need (self-help books don’t count) might be a desire to simplify, might be a desire for some sort of peace.  

That desire, however, to let go of everything might also be fear.  It might be a fear of being attached.  Much like the priest who proselytizes that he has renounced sex and money and wealth but thinks of nothing else, a real desire for unattachment has to be honest.  It can’t be a pronouncement; it must be genuine.  As much as possible, I would like this trip to be an honest exploration of peace, of union with nature, of letting go and of being.  But I don’t want it to be fake.  Faux-spiritual people make my skin crawl.  “Have you met my new guru???”  “No.  Have you gone to hell???  You should try it sometime!”

From Wayne Dyer’s essay on the Tao Te Ching:  Here’s the message behind this seemingly paradoxical verse of the Tao Te Ching: Your nature is to be good because you came from the Tao, which is goodness. But when you’re trying to be good, your essential nature becomes inoperative. In your effort to be good, moral, or obedient, you lose touch with your Tao nature.

We do not want to try to be spiritual on this trip.  We can only be honest, and if we end up being spiritual, then so be it.  If we end up being total douchebags, then so be it.  But at least we will be honest.  (Note:  You can’t try to be honest either or put honesty up on a pedestal or make it a principle to follow.  If you do, you stop being honest.  Honesty – and this is the rub – has to happen on its own; because, it never went anywhere – your true nature, as goodness, is honesty.)  Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote probably the greatest book in existence, rivaling even Great Expectations or A Christmas Carol.   William Kennedy  called it “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”  It’s called 100 Years of Solitude, and I found much of it boring, but still when you’re reading it you know it’s genius.  When I lived in Mexico I was watching an interview with Marquez.  This was after his book won a Nobel Prize for literature and was translated into 26 languages and pretty much the entire Latin world called him the greatest genius of all time.  Worldly trappings were his oyster.  He could fart on a couple of pages and they would have been published.  He said something that I remember to this day.  He was talking about all the “success” he’d had.  He had a subdued tone.  He was almost embarrassed to be being interviewed.  (Interesting for a Nobel Prize winner.)   “After my book won the Nobel prize, I had to write an Anti-100Years of Solitude,” he said.  “People were expecting me to write a sequel, so I wrote something completely different.  I wrote the complete opposite because trying to recreate 100 Years wouldn’t have been honest.”  The Tao, Nature, our essential goodness wouldn’t let him be dishonest.  That book was already written.  It was time for another.  

When Mississippi comes it will be time for… whatever is there.  I actually do not know what kind of movie we will make.  For the moment, I do know that fengshui-ing is not all hocus pocus.  With every desk, drawer, and crappy piece of clothing (ha!  you should see Phillip’s clothes, they’re hilarious) that Phillip throws out, we’re throwing out the non-useable from our lives.  With every day spent in nature we will be communing with the Divine.  This is not airy fairy foo foo, this is real.  At least, this is my intent.  

I think everyone finds their way back to Nature, or God, or the Divine, or Energy, or Zero Point Field or Tao or Essense or whatever you want to call it, in their own way.  Our way is choosing to float down a river… THE River in America, and make a film about it.  This is our way, and interestingly enough, the Tao means “the way.”  We won’t be extreme however.  Here, this guy’s way is interesting.  Check out minute 1:03:

So we’re not that unattached.  Uhhhh, at least I hope Phillip isn’t; that’s why I’m insisting on separate tents.  But this Trip is an exploration of letting go.  Of working with the River, not against it, not conquering it.  The Tao.  The Unspoken.  Just being, letting the River float us.


In an upcoming post, we will show you an interview we conducted with critically-acclaimed writer Eddy L. Harris, author of Mississippi Solo.  Click on the link in the right margin to check it out. 

We spoke of what it meant to be an African American traveler, Barack Obama, the Mississippi River, racism, France and French elections; but, the one theme that stuck with me the most was his description of his friendship with the river.  Eddy went down the River in 1985.  A black man, he went from Minnesota (where there are few black people) to the the Deep South (where, in 1985 at least, they still didn’t like them very much).  This was, by far, the best interview I’ve ever done.  Eddy was real and funny and opened my eyes to many things.  You know you’ve had a good interview when you come away from the experience changed.  

I hope the River changes me.  I hope I let it flow through me and that it moves some of my furniture around.  I hope it throws out the shit I don’t need.  And I can’t wait to share it with you.  When the time is right, we will be on the River and we will let you know what else gets thrown out.


One thought on “Chinese Fire Sale!”

  1. Way down the mississippi river thats the place for me . I dont give a hoot about the swane river . Cause ive got my honey waiting at home for me . I work a blues i paddle too isip adrop of porter too ,way down the mississippi river thats the place for me . GERRARD SLAN .

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