by cheri block sabraw
Joe and I got together last week to discuss the Analects of Confucius.
Our conversation took a detour when a sinewy male waiter approached our cramped table, under which Joe’s sore knee waited in an angle of repose.
Hello, my name is Mahid, he said. His thick silver and black glass frames distracted me.
You don’t look like a Mahid, Joe barked.
You look like an Ernest. An earnest Ernest. Joe winked at me.
Mahid missed the word play, robotically delivering the daily specials in a high pitch.
Our soup is creamed asparagus. If you are willing to take a survey right now, you can get a free appetizer. Would you like nachos with artichoke-cheese dip?
Screw the survey, Joe’s aching knee said through Joe’s mouth.
Mahid backed off.
I tried to wink at him to let him know that Joe was cranky, but he missed that signal, too.
You know Joe, from Confucius I understand that learning teaches one how to moderate inner passions. By being good, people will follow. The education of the leader is to be a role model for the followers. Do you agree with those beliefs?
I don’t think that by being good, people will follow. No, baby, I don’t buy that, Joe concluded.
That’s what I like about you Joe. I like your Qi. My Qi likes your Qi, I said, enjoying the sound of the syllables. I always know where you stand on all issues. You are straightforward and frank. Why here in our booth today, the vital energy of the universe swirls around in a natural way. That’s Qi, right?
It’s Qi, but it’s a little Li, Joe added.
Lunch arrived, just in time for my Li.
I like the ritual of our Li and our lunch, I said, as I put my napkin in my lap.
Ritual is what keeps Qi under control, Cheri, Joe added, pushing the cream across the table for my coffee.
The Analects of Confucius is about Li– how to behave as a civilized person. Did you read 3.8 in the Analects? In a nutshell it says that you cannot hide the real Qi of a person by covering it with Li, or make-up.
I missed that one, Joe. Let’s finish up with Run. What is Run as opposed to Qi and Li?
Before Joe could answer, Mahid was back. He looked at Joe with worried eyes, hidden behind those damn rims.
Would you like a refill of coffee? He squeaked.
Joe’s crustiness flaked off as he considered Run.
Yes, son, thank-you. Thank-you Mahid.
Run is the Golden Rule, a sense of reciprocity. Do unto others….baby.
Mahid, would you please bring the check? I gotta run.