Lenten Observance: Day 12

Tao 23 & 24: “Express yourself completely, then keep quiet.  Be like the forces of nature…”  The first part sounds like a good precept for productive dialog — express what you have to say, and then listen.  Too much of my Jesuit training here shining through, in that I still find myself at times barrelling ahead with my own ideas and then listening only for possible objections so that I can answer them. This is not listening to someone else, but only looking for ways to fortify my argument, which is not the same thing.  In suggesting that we be like the natural forces — they do their thing, and then are quiet — if there’s a storm, it happens, and then there’s a lull after the storm;  if it’s raining, the rain comes down, but the storm ends and then there’s sunshine.  It does also suggest that we be truly ourselves, and not just be a mask to hide behind (another way to win arguments, perhaps).

24 has the same sort of idea — “just do your job, then let go.”  That too is good advice.  It’s tough to let go.  It’s so easy to want to hold on, but that sense of control is only an illusion.  24 starts with the lines “He who stands on tiptoe doesn’t stand firm.”  There is something in this of the Greek idea of Nemesis, or the Wheel of Fortune — if you aim for the top and attain it, you will also fall from the top;  If you stand solidly, you may not “reach the top,” but you’ll be more solid, more surefooted.  There’s something to that, I think.

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