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.