Once again he could feel its approach. The great dread, the great tiredness. The overwhelming urge to quit, to retire. It was the feeling that told him that all his efforts were vanity, that wisdom was a trap.
The black dread came like the lapping of a tide, always it seemed inevitable, at most he was throwing rocks against the sea, beating it off for a time, yet knowing it would return again in force.
“The first step is learning to breathe,” said the wise monkey.
“Learning to breathe?” asked Nin.
“Learning to breathe,” repeated the monkey. “It is the core of all martial prowess. If you wish to run with the swiftness of a cheetah, first you must learn how to breathe. If you wish to catch a hunter’s arrow as it races towards you, first you must learn how to breathe. If you wish to cut your foe in twain with one fell strike, first you must learn how to breathe.”
Nin sat in the thicket without much to do, and without much on his mind. He was just about ready to turn in for an early evening when he heard the song of a nightingale pierce through the darkening night: