December 21 – Nowhere to Go – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
There is nothing to do and nowhere to go. Accepting this, we can do everything and go anywhere.
One of the basic notions of Taoism is that the world in all its mystery and difficulty cannot be improved upon, only experienced.We are asked to believe that life in all its complexity and wonder is complete as is—ever changing and vital, but never perfectible.
I’ve come to understand that this doesn’t prevent our being involved. On the contrary, accepting that the world can do quite fine without us allows us to put down the burden of being corrective heroes and simply concentrate on absorbing the journey of being alive.
Thus, our work is not to eliminate or re-create anything. Rather, like human fish, we are asked to experience meaning in the life that moves through the gill that is our heart. Ultimately, we are small living things awakened in the stream, not gods who carve out rivers.We cannot eliminate hunger, but we can feed each other. We cannot eliminate loneliness, but we can hold each other. We cannot eliminate pain, but we can live a life of compassion.
I only came upon these notions after experiencing them. Faced with dying, the opportunity to change the world was taken away. It was all I could do to survive being changed by the world.This sent me into a sudden depression, but soon I found what remained to be liberating. Stripped of causes and plans and things to strive for, I discovered that everythingI could need or ask for is right here—in flawed abundance.
Since then, my efforts have turned from trying to outrun suffering to trying to express it, from trying to achieve joy to trying to discover it, and from trying to shape or better the lives around me to accepting love wherever I can find it.