People who know me know me to be a calm, undisturbed person. My anger lasts no more than a day, and frustration no more than five minutes. I almost never panic and seem to be amused, even for just short bits of seconds at a time, at every little action or speech or writing. That’s why people look for me when they need help. I reckon they see me as this stoic, unmovable pillar of support and solutions. To find someone pragmatic and zen-like ought to be one of the foremost instincts of a person who is desperate and in confusion.
The Japanese have this phrase in their art of war, which many of you might be familiar with — Furinkazan, which translates quite literally to “wind, forest, fire, mountain”. A wiki search will tell you that this quotes itself from ‘chapter 7 of Sun Tzu's The Art of War: “Move as swift as a wind, stay as silent as forest, attack as fierce as fire, undefeatable defense like a mountain.”’
I swallowed the english translation of Sun Tzu’s AoW at 10, the chinese version at 12 (with much help from my Chinese teacher), The Book of Five Rings, The Prince and The Art of War at 13 and 14 and De Re Militari and Arthashastra more recently. And, really, even with varying guiding principles, one who reads with even the least of insight will realise that every book is, in short and summary, advocating the taking advantage of chaos in one way or another. When there’s no chaos, create chaos. I think that there is a great instinctive aversion to chaos on the part of many people, with the need to impose a system onto what is in order to model it into what ought to be. What results from this are panic attacks when one is unable to do so or, worse, the creation of a gap between impression and reality.
I think you would be mistaken to attribute such a form of calmness as part of my nature or personality. Far from that, it’s been something trained and beaten into me. Without chaos, I wouldn’t find it necessary to remain stoic. There’s this part of me which embraces chaos and noise and confusion, but the better part of me knows that the best way to embrace all the bustle is to contrast myself to it; the ability of detachment is a hugely satisfying and useful one.
But I would plead with you not to think of such a form of detachment as an emotional one; they are very different beasts altogether. If mental detachment is a necessary choice, emotional detachment is merely partially the same. Think of it as more of a personal choice more than anything.