Tag Archives: The Painted Veil


30 Nov


So, I’ve been reading, off and on, The Painted Veil… Among other things. The book, as always, is infinitely better than the movie. And I loved the movie. Books will always be better, I think, because they happen to you: you’re not merely an observer.

I hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago… Or longer ago than that. I can’t remember a time in the past year when my back or shoulder hasn’t ached. Still, a few weeks ago I woke up to find my left shoulder and upper back rock stiff with extremely acute pain throughout that area.

I figured I’d slept wrong again and got ready for five to seven days of coping.

But as the days drug on, the stiffness and pain just got worse. The muscles started to twitch. It was unnerving.

From everything I can tell, I somehow strained the hell out of my whole upper left side. So, now I’m on Alieve.

I hate being injured. I feel weak and useless and ineffectual. I was a Marine and could do 100 push ups without blinking. Yesterday, I almost broke my nose trying to life myself off the ground. But, I’m going to try and not be down: recovery takes time.

Still, this situation makes me think of existence, the point of it all, and all that jazz… Then again, everything makes me think of that. This disposition just casts it in a particular light. One that is readily identifiable in The Painted Veil. It’s strange to me…

As sort of dispondancy, just without the melancholy. It has a sort of disconnected taste to it, twanged with acceptance; “I can’t do shit: so be it. This is the way it is.” And that level of “whatevz” is not one I habitually ascribe to. When I do feel that way, it’s usually dismissed immediately and I move onto something else. I’m not used to existing in such a state.

And so it is. I wonder…

It makes me think that G-d must feel something akin to this. Acceptance. I mean, he doesn’t really intervene in big ways anymore. He just kinda sits and observes and watches and, if we’re lucky, we can recognize that from time to time. Those seem to be the only real miracles. I think my Rabbi said it best, “I love the idea that real miracles come from a change in perception, not a change in events.”

Perhaps we’re just little dots of consciousness playing out our lives on a subatomic particle in a neurotransmitter in G-d’s brain. 🙂

At this point, I wonder where I’m going with all this, but I already know the answer; the same place we all go with anything: no where.

In The Painted Veil, Kitty and Waddington are walking together and she tells him she seems to be searching for something, but she doesn’t know what it is. Jokingly, she asks him, “Do you know it?”

He smiles and shrugs, “Tao. Some of us look for the Way in opium and some in G-d, some of us in whiskey and some in love. It is all the same Way and it leads nowhither.”