I’ve been contemplating a lot on the Tao Te Ching lately. We are often trapped in a hustle/do-er culture, without having the space to think if what we’re doing is conducive.
I find myself trapped in this mode even when I’m working on my experiments, urged relentless by the clock ticking down, without asking myself if the momentum I’m trying to build or carry is actually right for me as a whole. It is tempting to see produce as an easy way out, to have a visible output of one’s life. But once in a while I find the space to hold myself back, to ask myself, what was the original point of this experimental year?
Sometimes the space is forced upon me, because even experimental work takes a toll on my health, and I can argue that it takes a heavier toll, because now I have the time to actually do something I want to do, so I have no excuses. I feel compelled to work even harder, because I feel like I would not have the opportunity to do this again. But the tighter we hold on to something, the more elusive it gets.
The point of the Tao, is to simply be in the flow of the universe, to allow things to unfold, instead of exerting force on situations.
And so the wise
shape without cutting,
Square without sawing,
true without forcing.
I am trying to reconcile that way of thought – the necessary surrender, to place trust and have faith in the Universe, with the gift of free will, agency and creativity in humanity. We are uniquely human because we can be conscious about our decisions. If we simply allow life to happen to us, what is then, the point of life?
I am still mulling upon it, but I think the answer is somewhere in the profound middle (very Tao), that even to surrender, to let things unfold on its own, takes a very conscious choice – because the natural human instinct till now, is to act unconsciously out of fear and scarcity, or to wallow in the mode of the victim: this is always happening to me; so to surrender, to allow, requires the conscious courage to trust.
Is the agency to act or respond, executed out of fear or love? That if we are dealt with a terrible hand of cards, do we choose to believe we’re a victim of fate, or do we still choose to love and have faith, in the most trying of circumstances?
That is what I find most powerful about humanity, that even in the worst of all situations, we can still always find people who are capable of seeing the light of it all, to still find solace and joy, in the immutable strength of nature, that life finds its own way to live on, no matter what.