This chapter opens with a series of lines under what I’d call the category of: f*ing let it go.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
And a goodly handful of phrases like that, every one of them a mantra of: stop arguing with reality stop arguing with reality. I love the second part of these lines: let yourself…. If you want something, and here’s the paradoxical part, you have to let go and let yourself be the thing you fear first. It isn’t the pursuit of the thing that gets you what you need, it’s in the letting go of whatever you’re fighting against.
The very last line of this chapter hit me hard, and was what I took with me into my mediation this morning.
Only in being lived by the Tao
can you be truly yourself.
I want to shout that in all caps and about a 20 point font, it is so damn important! Being lived by the Tao, letting go and moving in accord with your inner nature, it’s the thing man, it’s the thing. I have yet to come across a single line in the Tao Te Ching that sums it up better than that. Being lived by the Tao isn’t about surrendering who you are, it’s about letting go so you can really be who you are.
And a good lesson for me right now. I’m in a new little relationship, and it’s weird, like nothing I’ve ever been in before and it is simultaneously the most comfortable and uncomfortable situation I’ve ever been in. The fact I’m feeling smack dab in the middle of a paradox is strangely encouraging. The juicy stuff always happens in this space.
There are sometimes people who come into your life who, quite unwittingly, become your teachers, more than anything by what they trigger and reveal within yourself. This guy is one of those. A wicked introvert, a rural guy, solitude is his natural state, which lends to some weird dating, but has also got me looking at my own life through the lens of solitude and what it means to me. Most revealing, has been in my efforts to downsize my life enough to be able to write (see the struggle I talk about in chapter 21). I am rather astounded by the extremity to which I have to cut back before my life becomes one I can really be writing productively in (which it finally is, HUZZAH!).
The irony is, this smaller life, feels like it has much more in it. Simply through talking with this guy about his need for solitude, I’ve been looking more closely at my own need, and finding it greater than I thought. Making life choices in accord with my inner nature has allowed me to be more truly myself than I’ve been in a long time. And if I get nothing else from this weird little relationship, that lesson alone is golden!
So, here I am, dating this guy I don’t talk to every day, and don’t see very often, and I am surprisingly happy and fulfilled. But it has its challenges, there’s lots of room for insecurities to fill all that space. This is not what I’m used to, and that leads to a lot of uncertainty. Granted what I’m used to is super-keen-intense that blows all to hell in fairly short order, so deviating from that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it can be uncomfortable.
Not being constantly reassured by some highly expressive guy who’s super into me leaves me questioning what I actually need versus what I simply have come to expect. A deep thinker who doesn’t rush into much of anything isn’t likely to over-express or over-commit emotionally, and I like the integrity of that. But in the early stages, when we’re both trying to sort out what we know and how we feel, there’s LOTS of room for my monkey mind to fill in the gaps with fear and conjecture. This poor lad has no idea the number of times I’ve had a good little freak out in my discomfort and had to hit the whole situation with some Taoist Problem Solving. I am finding the just shutting up and leaving it alone for a while dissipated a lot of what I “thought” was a “problem.”
I don’t know where things with this fella will lead, it may blow all to hell in a different way, for different reasons. But at least different mistakes lead to different lessons. Some I’m learning already, and make me want to add my own line to this chapter:
If you want to be secure,
let yourself be insecure.
So I’m letting myself be insecure. In the moments when I’m feeling that (and just shutting up about it and not trying to FIX it), it is building a funny sort of security for me. Not necessarily a security in the relationship itself, but a security in myself. Something in this is pushing me more towards who I truly am and more and more I’m relaxing into it and letting myself be “lived by the Tao.” Amidst all this space I am feeling more and more connected, secure in the knowledge I am right where I need to be, I will handle whatever happens, and I will be more truly myself because of it all.