There is a t'ai qi principle of 70% which is about turning up again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, until it's done. It is fantastically easy to get caught up in catastrophisation: creating a crises that I have to save the day by solving: it is addictive stuff, high highs and black-dog pits. And the more caught up in it I get the the duller the next hit. The duller the hit the greater the effort... etc etc. Spiral time. 70% demands attention, connection and completion, and breathing. The first rude joke my father told me has stayed with me, and now still surprises me with its dodgy zen quality: On a hillside, an old bull and a young bull look down at a herd of cows. The young bull, eyes crossed with excitement, "Let's run down and fuck one!" The old bull replies, "Let's walk down and fuck 'em all". I was some sort of early teen, we were on a walk, on a hillside as it happens, in Dorset, I'm sure I laughed not really getting it. He had not said "fuck" in that man-to-man way, to me before. I didn't mind not getting it - I had been included in a man thing. So, it stuck. My first encounter with 70%.
At school I was never a sprinter, I thought I was fat, and maybe I was a bit. Second row prop and I was a good swimmer, and for a brief moment (probably one gala) swam for the county. Competitiveness never really got me, I realise now I mind too much about loosing. Becoming a tv director was counter-intuitive, I'm not happily competitive and my brain freezes over when I am rushed. Early days and stunt men would completely banjax me with, "no, no, it's like this: take the swing in the wide, get the emotion in the mid, and take the hit on the reverse angle... guv" i knew I had to respond in kind, and quickly, so would completely bollocks it by putting myself in a ludicrously complicated situation that I didn't have time to shoot my way out of. One of the main joys of 70% is having time to think and to talk, and do it well.
Yesterday we had a truly satisfying bonfire. Started well, it burnt everything we put on it. It's still going now, outside in the dark, 36 hours later. And this morning Andrew and Larry came to help me repair the track to Jo's house, which is deeply pot-holed. I had ordered 2 tons of scalpings, enough for the whole winter, I thought. The first half ton went into one pot-hole, and I realised we were going to run out very quickly. After about an hour we were finished, several holes filled, many more as deep as ever. Over coffee and Eccles cakes I apologised for not having ordered more scalpings. Andrew just said "70%!" - we had filled the ones we filled pretty well. We had learnt a lot about the bottomlessness of pot-holes. We were still speaking to each other, and able to plan what happened next. And each of us had time to do a next thing before lunch. Repairing a road may not be as glamorous as making an episode of Casualty, but I will come back tomorrow, or whenever the next few tons get delivered, and continue to enjoy doing it. It's not a chore. And I had time to finish other work I had started yesterday, including bringing the bonfire back to life. The reminders of my father, and of reading Shunryu Suzuki talking about a good bonfire, arose in the 30 unused %.
Watching the sunset while discussing fear, Trump and pot-holes with the smoking heap (I have always had a very intimate relationship with bonfires, again down to my dad, a pyromaniac of epic vision) I realised that in two days I had achieved more than I had expected. 70% creating more from less.j
"As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualise it. As soon as you intellectualise something, it is no longer what you saw" Shunryu Suzuki