Frustration clouded over my day like the threat of acid rain. I felt caught in a blustery wind storm, pushing and pulling me aggressively in useless directions – at least as far as work was concerned. Personally life danced along harmoniously. Naturally between the two, especially since I worked mostly from home today, this sort of imbalance stung. So finally after writing angry letters never to be read, walking the dogs until my fingers threatened to fall off, and burning a quesadilla, I turned to a quote from The Tao of Pooh:
“…you’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are. We will let a selection from the writings of Chuang-tse illustrate: Hui-tse said to Chuang-tse, “I have a large tree which no carpenter can cut into lumber. Its branches and trunk are crooked and tough, covered with bumps and depressions. No builder would turn his head to look at it. Your teachings are the same – useless, without value. Therefore, no one pays attention to them.”
“You complain that your tree is not valuable as lumber. But you could make use of the shade it provides, rest under its sheltering branches, and stroll beneath it, admiring its character and appearance. Since it would not be endangered by an axe, what could threaten its existence? It is useless to you only because you want to make it into something else and do not use it in its proper way.” – Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
Wise people in my life told me several times, “You cannot control what is out of your control.” To this day I own that. Sure, people will act in unreasonable ways, accuse unfairly, or simply speak out of complete irresponsibility. In those cases I will get upset, but then I breathe, turn on some good music, and try to let it all roll off my shoulders. Or I will go for a long sweaty run and melt that frustration away. I cannot control other people’s perception of their truth, or force them to alter their personality. What I can control is my every simple action or reaction. I can. I will. And in doing so, I will lead only by example, without trying to let unhealthy people change my reality. After all, it is what it is.
Now if only other people could take this same advice. Here is where I need to yet again practice patience and forgiveness. I cannot take ownership of someone else’s version of success, for example, and therefore can easily remind myself that if I do not agree with someone’s reaction to a situation, if I believe someone is acting purely out of strange selfish laziness, that, as one might say, “is their problem,” not mine. Which reminds me of another sage sentence a wise woman once told me, “You cannot be responsible for another person’s reaction to your truth.”
I have run into many people who cannot see their tree as all kinds of wonderful- if only they stepped back a little and took notice at all of its wonders. Too many people forge ahead with blind and arrogant self-imposed blindness, only to ram their head into the trunk over and over and over again. The worst kind are those, while rubbing the tender goose eggs on their noggin, who pass credit for the injury and pain onto the innocent person nearby. The person watering the tree, for example, could easily be subject to blame for the tree’s failure to fall.
My duty shall be to practice my work and life without such worthless use of energy and time.
I will have to clear my mind, step back and observe what is, not what is not, or what I think it should be, and relish in what I have before me as my reality. My reality and ours. I’m ready. I’m ready to climb this tree, knobs and scars and all, regardless of the morons charging the tree with their hard heads trying to knock it down.