Dao – path; way; the way of nature or the universe; the process of being in congruence and balance with that way; the source that created, creates, and nourishes all things; absolute ultimate reality itself
The Little Tree
Jodi and I were headed into Walmart to burn some time before the library opened one morning in mid December. As we drove in front of the store to go park, we passed the Christmas trees.
“Oh, those small Christmas trees are so cute,” she said.
“Yeah, but I don’t do Christmas trees. Well, not anymore. I used to. As a kid, I used to get a small Christmas tree and put it in my room,” I replied.
“You did? That’s cute.”
“Yep. I’d go out in the woods and find that little pine tree that no one would want and I’d cut it down with the thought, ‘Oh little tree, I’ll love you even if others won’t.’ Kinda selfish when I think about it. I went out there and cut down this little pine tree, essentially ending its life, with the thought that I was somehow saving it. Had I just left it alone, it would have maybe grown up.”
My dad gave me a Franklin Day Planner early on in my life. It came with some cassette tapes of a seminar that Hyrum Smith gave on the use of the planner. Though, it wasn’t really about the use of the planner. It was about the use of your life. In the seminar Hyrum has a little parable about time, which you can also find on his website:
If I were to stop you on the street and say, “Excuse me, what time is it?” What would you do? You’d probably look at your watch and say, “It’s a quarter to three,” or some such thing. But if I were to stop you on the street and say the same words but in a different order, “Time, what is it?” you’d probably look at me as if I were crazy. In America we don’t usually stop people on the street and ask them philosophical questions. What is time? What good is time? How would you define it?
Saint Augustine once tried to answer this question. He said: “For what is Time? Who is able easily and briefly to explain it?…Surely we understand well enough when we speak of it. What then is time? If nobody asks me, I know; but if I were desirous to explain it to someone-plainly I know not.”
I never really used it, the planner, until I was about 30. I stopped using it when we sold our business. At that point, I didn’t really need to “manage” my time/life anymore. It sort of self-managed.
Performance Training for Life
I happened upon a post by some professional climber: Ten Training Tips for Lifelong Athletes. I don’t climb, but found his blog by happenstance. Good advice for life, even if you aren’t an athlete.
What’s All This Got to do with Daoism?
I read The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff some years ago. I’ve re-read it numerous times since. You’ll find it on my list of books. I never really researched or investigated Daoism (or the old spelling Taoism) until recently. I’m no expert, but what I learned was that several thousand years ago, some Chinese guy got fed up with all the crap going on in China. He went to leave and someone asked him to write down his wisdom. The Dao De Jing was the result. It implores us to live according to nature. Purely. Simply. Pursue nothing that does not benefit everything. Look first to yourself for explanations of your problems.
It made me think of the reasons why I desired to sail on the oceans and now do long hikes. I’m certainly no expert on sailing or hiking, but there’s a peace and serenity on the water and in nature. To sail or hike successfully, one must flow with the ocean, nature, and not against it.
In my search for epistemological and ontological truth, I wandered into it. I suppose it was there all the time. I had to simply accept it.
Like the tree, time, and training, one must live in congruence with nature, using his/her time wisely to practice living in congruence with nature to use his/her time wisely.