The Tao is like a well:
used, but never used up.
My life involves thinking a lot about energy and how I use it. When to conserve it, what feeds it, what drains it. Because I run on pretty tight margins I’m much more aware of my own energy, and get pretty responsive feedback when I’m doing things wrong.
More than anything, this passage reminds me about how to do it right. I find when I’m in “the Tao,” connected and in the groove, doing what feels like what I’m meant to be doing, I seem to be able to tap into an energy that is outside of my own reserves. You all know what that’s like: when you’re feeling inspired, you’ve got a little more bounce, things seem to just fall into place, and what you’re doing fills you up, bringing energy rather than expending it. You’re in the Tao baby! When you’re connected, or hanging out with other people who are connected, you tap into that, and there’s a seemingly unlimited reserve to feed from. Word of advice though, holding on to this energy is like holding on to a baby bird, you squeeze too tight or try and control it and you may lose it entirely.
I need chapters like this to remind me in those times when I’m pushing too hard at the wrong things. Life can be hard work, sure, but it shouldn’t be hard work. There’s digging in and pushing through the stuff you need to get done, and then there’s pushing hard on the stuff that really ain’t yours to be doing [see the fuckit list]. When you’re not in the flow, things are way harder than they should be, they’re less rewarding, you’re more inclined to be bitter at the tasks ahead, soul-sucking is a phrase that comes up a lot. And our phraseology often has a grain of truth: when you’re on the wrong path, it’s draining for your spirit, when you’re tapped in to the Tao, there’s an infinite well to support you.
So when you’re feeling like you’re pushing the buttered rhino up a slippery slope (stole that line from my brother who’s use of it brought out the ever-coveted snort of laughter from me today), ask yourself: is this my rhino? why am I trying to get it up this hill? is there something else I should be doing (perhaps with less butter, or something more fun with the butter)?
The Tao’s got an infinite well (possibly full of butter) just waiting for you, as soon as you tap into it.
4 thoughts on “ToV 4 – the Tao’s infinite well”
Couldn’t agree more
Very interesting. I also keep an ongoing eye on myself. Likely most people have had weeks when they have to dole out their time, if nothing else. My life has been like that lately, but it hasn’t become longterm yet.
On a regular basis, I lose all hope. And self-esteem, though I would like a more gut way to put it. Then in a few days, it gets better. So I dole out my positive energy and courage, enough to take some risks, enough to deal with everyday headaches, not too much to trigger the crash. I dole out how much to face the future, before it overwhelms me. When I’m down, I eek out my faking it, trying not to get too alienated or too trapped.
Lately I’ve had full-time skilled productivity. I feel like I’m living on a small margin. I hope the margin is bigger than I think. And I hope your rhinos are smaller than you think!
Yeah, I’m not sure I wouldn’t do better to just let the damn rhino find his own way up the hill, not matter what size he is.
I don’t know if the margins are ever any bigger than you think, but I am learning to have faith in my ability to deal with what happens when I fuck up and get outside the margins.
Last week while driving my daughter to one of her out of town baseball games, or maybe it was to an awards ceremony in Edmonton, she asked me, “Mom, what do you think I should be when I grow up?” This question is coming from someone who from a very much younger age has always said that she was going to med school so that she could work with Doctors without Borders. So you can understand that I was taken back just a smidge.
I answered, ” You are 15 and that is really young to make up your mind on one path.” The answer wasn’t good enough. She then said, “Dad thinks I should be a doctor.” I countered, “What do you want to do?” She responded, “I asked my tarot cards whether I should become a doctor or an actor, and the cards said, An Actor. What do you think mom.” I’m not sure why she was asking me because my daughter is at the age that seems to think that whatever mom says, does, wears is definitely not cool.
I told her that I’ve changed careers several times and that seems to be the trend now. Whatever path she chooses doesn’t have to be the only path she stays on. She wasn’t ready to hear that because she asked me again, “What do you think I should do?” So I said from my heart, ” Find something that brings you joy. I’d be happy with whatever made you happy.” I guess that was what she wanted to hear because after a few cursory comments the questions ended and she was smiling the rest of the way.
That was a long way of explaining how I find the tao in daily life. I try to do things that bring joy to myself and that sometimes means bringing joy to others. I had a late day session with a client and her father this week. I was pretty tired and ready to go home. After playing a simple drawing game, the father said to me, “wow, now I understand that I don’t use clear simple language with my daughter. No wonder she doesn’t always remember the directions I’m giving her.” He had a smile on his face when he said it because it was like a light going on or a door opening for him. His daughter was smiling and nodding her head. It was at that moment that I felt this gentle buzz inside that energized me for the rest of the session.
I don’t know if it’s butter that brings you joy, but if it is, then fill up that wellspring of tao with it, and say Gan Bei!