“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” - Lao Tzu
I have to stop thinking I can’t do this. Next time I wake up on a Monday morning and think I have nothing to write for a blog post, I just need to look that thought straight in the eye and tell it “no, that’s impossible.” Because it never fails that I’ll find inspiration, usually just before, (though sometimes just after), I start writing. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this blog: just to remind myself. Hopefully, it can remind you too.
We are capable. Even and especially when we can’t see it.
I’m torn as to whether or not it is too early to write a year-in-review type blog post. Of course, it all depends. We’re not out of Mondays yet, but almost. In any case, I don’t consider this a year-in-review. It’s more like I said above: a reminder. And, as 2016 is winding down, we could all use this kind of reminder.
Today’s inspiration came in the form of that quote, and while it is beyond cliché to quote Lao Tzu, I can’t help but embrace it, because I believe in sourcing my quotes, and in sourcing this one I ran across the rest of the passage it comes from in the Tao Te Ching. The line that follows the one above?
“A good artist lets his intuition lead him wherever it wants.”
Well, damn, Tzu. If I didn’t need to hear that this morning.
If I can get a little year-in-review-y today, I’d have to say this year has been a journey, in all the good and less good ways. One I’m still on. And, despite everything I’ve been through, every lesson I’ve learned, I still find myself slipping back into that thought process. The one that says I have to know now, figure it out now, and that, because I don’t and I can’t, I’m not moving anywhere, moreover that I’m not where I need to be right now.
But that isn’t true. I’m moving. Where, I don’t know, but I know I’m moving. And I’m starting to believe that it’s towards something good.
I said earlier that, after Nanowrimo, I held this great expectancy, like I was on the cusp of something I couldn’t name. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, and, as much as I don’t want to, I’m losing a bit of that expectancy. The positive aspect anyways. Instead of a good thing, I’m starting to wonder what really is waiting for me.
January 1st is a big day, if you want it to be. But whether you set any faith by the turning of the calendar or not, it’s hard not to feel a certain sense of “time running out” right now. And, for someone like me, that can be the worst thing.
Anyone with anxiety can tell it’s not always the not knowing that gets you. When you don’t know when or where, it’s that much easier to distract yourself, find something else to focus on, (though this doesn’t always work). But knowing, seeing it coming, especially when you know there’s nothing you can do about it, that’s agonizing. It quickly becomes the only thing you can think about. You feel like you can’t move on until you figure it out, and you can’t figure it out until it happens, so you sit and stew in your anxiety until the clock runs out.
Ignorance is bliss, because anticipation will kill you.
I don’t know what the New Year will bring, any more than I know what the new day will, though that hasn’t stopped me from feeling like the clock is running out. But, good or bad, something will come. And I know, deep down, it’s not so much the thing itself that matters. What matters is me.
That’s why the good traveler doesn’t worry about arriving. The good traveler really only worries about being good. In the same way that a good artist doesn’t worry about the end product. The good artist worries about being good.
Because the best thing can come into your life and, if you’re in the wrong state of mind, it won’t mean a thing. (It’s that thought, by the way, that keeps me up at night.) In the same way, the worst thing in the world could meet you, and, though affected because you’re human, it’s possible you could come away not worse but better. In the end, all of it, life, is the raw material. And if we focus on using it right, on being the kind of people who can use it right, then we don’t really need to worry about the end result. If we are good, it will be good.
And, wouldn’t you know, Tzu beat us to it.
“Thus the Master is available to all people
And doesn’t reject anyone.
He is ready to use all situations
And doesn’t waste anything.
This is called Embodying the Light.”
And if that’s not something we all need to be reminded of, I don’t know what is.