Don’t let Wen Zen stop you from living

When I finish this piece of text, then I am allowed to go for a walk.
When I grow up, then I will travel the world.
When I have more money, then I will quit my job and work for that important NGO.
When the weather is better, then I will go out and exercise to get fit and run the marathon.
Only when I give up myself, then will this relationship succeed.

Wen Zen was a little monk living on a large mountain with a universe of patience. For millennia he lived on his mountain and waited patiently for the stars to align in just the right way. It was his life’s purpose to do just that. One day, when the stars were just right, he packed his rice bowl, a warm robe and a walking stick and climbed off the mountain into the big city sprawling at its feet.

The city felt very different. Everywhere people where going about their business, doing, shouting, making appointments and never did they look up at the stars to see if they had chosen an auspicious moment for their endeavors. Confused Wen Zen sat down on the steps in front of an ice cream parlor. A few people stopped and asked him if he needed help, some scoffed at him, but mostly they assumed he was a mentally disabled homeless man and ignored him.

At night when the owner of the ice cream parlor closed up shop Wen Zen was still siting there. The man, Louis, took pity on him and took him under his wing. He lived over the ice cream parlor and gave Wen Zen the couch to sleep on. This ice cream parlor just so happened to be the best ice cream parlor in the whole entire world.

Wen Zen and Louis became fast friends. Each day Louis invited Wen Zen into the ice cream parlor, each day he asked him what ice cream he would like to try and each day Wen Zen answered that he would look at the stars to see what he should try. But there were no stars to be seen in this city that lit up the sky with its multitude of lights. So each day Wen Zen declined, because he was not sure whether today was the right day for raspberry, mango, or, indeed, any ice cream at all. Sixty years were spent like this, until one day Louis died.

After that there was no more ice cream.

Back on the mountain Wen Zen could finally look at the stars again, but he could no longer read them, because his eyes were perpetually clouded by tears. In the throes of grief he threw himself off the mountain and his body shattered on the crags and cliffs of its sides. The kind universal spirit took pity on him, much like Louis had sixty years ago, and gently folded his spirit into her arms, as she was wont to do all lost souls.

But to this day echoes of Wen Zen reverberate off the sides of the mountain into the world, where sometimes they will catch an unsuspecting ear and whisper.

“When Then.”


Wen Zen’s echoes have whispered into my ears more times than I care to admit. Sometimes they turn into laziness and sometimes they turn into fear.

I have made things contingent on one another that had nothing to do with each other, in the hope that the favorable one as a reward would help me finish the other.

I have not done things for fear that I did not have enough money, or that I wasn’t good enough.

I have let Wen Zen’s echoes stop me from looking for different paths across my internal landscape, because I believed that only if I do it this one way will that thing that I want happen.

And sometimes Wen Zen was right, sometimes it was better for the stars to align in just the right way.

But it is really really important to remember that the internal stars we use to navigate across our internal map, are ours to move into the right position.

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