Volatile temps and asphyxiating humidity kept me dodging outside duties for weeks but I could no longer deny they demanded attention. The crusty vegetable plot and scorched grass already resembled America’s lock down cities and recently burned out buildings, and it was too late to rescue the limp and wilted clematis vine near the road. Loaded with promise to adorn the mailbox, distraught buds shirked back in silent anguish this year.
I scurried outside hoping to complete chores before feeling the effects of Mother Nature’s vile temper but escalating afflictions grew as quickly as 2020’s tragedies. Riotous gnats besieged my neck and face…militant mosquitoes joined forces with relentless biting black flies fiercely attacking my arms and legs. Feeling like the defaced public statues, attackers left behind vexatious itchy red welts as reminders of their unwarranted provocation… and then the tractor got stuck. No amount of pushing or pulling would release it.
My Caucasian face now reddened and overheated from Mother Nature’s febricity, my overwhelmed T-shirt sobbed relentlessly. Before frustration could overthrow my mood, I stopped. I already did what I could. It wasn’t everything I wanted but it was enough. In years past, I would have plowed through, marching on, trying harder and harder to force the outcome I desired, emphatically protesting the flow — even if a trickling one at that.
But today is different. Today, I recognize life has other plans and, while it’s not what I like, I am better off if I simply accept it. As is. Exactly what life is offering at the moment. Acceptance, I’ve come to realize, is the first step of positive action. In this case, relinquishing futile insistence to focus on other priorities like cooling off, soothing the bug bites, and responding to my growling hunger.
The Tao teaches the importance of awareness. I more readily see how forced activity fuels frustration. By choosing to pay attention to the present moment instead of begrudging mental chatter, I free my energy to walk a more productive path. Here’s two of my preferred translations of the 8th Verse of the Tao Te Ching which is about living in the flow. They are slightly different but still insightful:
“Tao is the watercourse way.
It flows through everything,
Even the places we find distasteful.
It accepts all things just as they are
And nurtures all without exception.
Were we to live this way
We would live in simple humble homes;
We would keep our thoughts upon the moment;
We would speak to all with clarity and kindness;
We would work at tasks that bring us pleasure;
And would take action only when the time was right.”
∼ Translation by William Martin in Walking the Tao
“Live in accordance with the nature of things,
In dwelling, be close to the land,
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
Stand by your word.
Govern with equity.
Be timely in choosing the right moment.
One who lives in accordance with nature
Does not go against the way of things.
He moves in harmony with the present moment,
Always knowing the truth of just what to do.”
∼ Translation by Dr. Wayne Dyer in Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao