The Boy and the Yin-Yang


Once upon a time, there was a boy who was ten years old. He liked his family's new computer because it had a color screen and a mouse. But most of all, it had a paint program. He loved MS Paint, and during his summer days, he would find national flags, symbols, and logos to draw into Paint. He drew the Texas flag first, which was his home state, then the United States, something called NATO, which seemed easy enough, and China, Russia, and Colorado for his mother. But one day, he found a strange circular symbol with only two colors; black and white. The two colors seemed to be swirling into the center as if neither one could overtake the other. When his big brother came home, the boy asked, "What is this symbol?" His brother replied, "Oh, that's a yin-yang." "What is it for?" asked the boy. "I'm not sure, but I think it means opposites or balance or something," his older brother quickly replied as he walked off. The boy loved this MS Paint picture most of all. He wasn't sure why or where the yin-yang came from or even what it meant, but he liked it deeply. And for many years, he remembered that drawing he created one day in MS Paint.

Fast Forward. The boy is now 19 years old. A fan of Winnie the Pooh since before his MS Paint adventure, a friend asked if he had ever heard of a book named "The Tao of Pooh," to which he replied simply, "No." "I think you would like it," the friend said. The boy looked in the library, but it was checked out. He also didn't have money since he was a poor college student. He asked his girlfriend to buy it for him for his birthday, but instead, she bought another Pooh book about business and success. The boy didn't like those books as he read a few pages and then never picked them up again.

Fast Forward. The boy is now 37 years old, married, has three kids, two dogs, and possibly testicular cancer. Times are hard. He attends a local arts and jazz festival with his wife to attempt to relax and not stress too much. At the festival, he finds a vendor that sells handmade necklaces made of bone. He notices that one of the necklaces has a yin-yang. The boy remembers using MS Paint all those years ago. He remembers almost buying the Tao of Pooh all those years ago. He remembers that yin-yang has something to do with Taoism, which he had understood from researching the Pooh book. Several months later, he discovered it wasn't cancer but a rare mass of non-cancerous cells, but surgery was still required.

During recovery, the boy began researching this yin-yang he was now wearing. He found out it was Chinese and that it could be found in nature. He found an entire sect of westerners who follow Taoist teachings and philosophy. He discovered discord servers, websites, YouTubers, and online classes. He read every copy of translated ancient books like the Tao Te Ching and Zhuangzu. He discovered he loved reading non-Harry Potter books for the first time in his life! He read anything he could from anyone, including Alan Watts. He joined online communities, joined classes from George Thompon, and built friendships online, and... it was good. He felt his life had been enriched again, like when he married and had children. New opportunities presented themselves, and new relationships began. Life slowed down and a calm routine set in.

Fast forward. The boy is now 40 years old. He developed tinnitus and, for the past year, has struggled with anxiety attacks, lack of sleep, and medications that wreak havoc on his meditation, practice, and peace of mind. What was once beautiful peace and quiet had become a high pitch squeal 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no breaks...ever. Through many weeks, he was able to gain the upper hand on the condition. Sleeping became a regular occurrence, but the damage had already been done. He left the communities, stopped learning, sat alone in a house, and wondered if peace would find him again.

One day he joined a new social network called Mastodon. He looked for a Taoist community but couldn't find one. He rejoined his old Discord server, which he was left an administrator over, and discovered the ability to stand up and manage a Mastodon instance wasn't as hard as he thought. There were certainly Taoists on Mastodon but no instance to call home. He wanted to share his story and everything he had learned. He hoped that maybe if he shared what he had learned, he could find a different path forward. He knew his journey wasn't over, he was just slowing down. Sharing his thoughts and feelings wouldn't be a miracle cure for anything, and he couldn't promise to help anyone do anything differently.

After all, he remembered drawing the yin-yang on MS Paint all those years ago. If the yin-yang, and thereby the Tao, could speak to him, guide him, and show itself to him, then perhaps it could do the same for others. They just need a place to find it.

And so, with all this in mind, the boy created...

TheTaoist Online (

A place where Taoists, Zen followers, Buddhists, and anyone else can come to share their stories with each other and with the rest of the Fediverse!

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