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Is anything as it appears?

I’m a fan of the writing of the late Jim Thompson, pulp fiction author of the 1940s and ’50s. Probably his most famous quote is along these lines: “There are a hundred ways to tell a story, but there’s only one plot: Nothing is as it appears.”

One of the best reasons to have a notepad always at hand is because you never know when you’ll come across a quote like Thompson’s, and if you run into words like those, you need to capture them before they escape.

This becomes more and more necessary as you pile up the years, and they pile into you.

The Thompson quote reminds me of one I read yesterday.

If you put these two fundamental Buddhist ideas together-the idea of not-self and the idea of emptiness-you have a radical proposition: neither the world inside you nor the world outside you is anything like it appears.


In these blogs, we talk about digging deep into yourself by keeping a journal, or jotting words on paper as they come to you, grabbing the words that erupt from the depths. We call this writing “unfiltered” because that is the goal of the exercise, to strip away facades and drill into bedrock.

But it just may be that the first rock you reach won’t be the bedrock. It might be a layer or two or three above it.

Or maybe we never reach bedrock.

That’s all right. It’s one of those deals where the pursuit is more important than the prize.

The worst that can happen is that we learn something about ourselves.

And maybe we find out that the “real us” isn’t quite as we thought it was.

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