Friday, April 15, 2011

Ducks and Cranes

The wind twirls treetops in a circular dance as leaves swirl into the sky and sweep across the yard and front step. Snow is predicted for tonight and the atmosphere is full of movement yet subdued as if waiting for what's to come.

I'm poised and watchful too. Will tomorrow's daylight reveal a cloak of winter white thrown casually over the earth's brown nakedness? Or will this snowstorm travel south of the Bayfield pennisula once again?

During my afternoon T'ai Chi Chih practice on the porch I was well aware of the bursts and blasts of air that ravaged the forest. And, thankful, too, for my little spot of shelter and warmth. Serenity in the midst of activity. That's certainly an accurate description of what it feels like to practice quiet, calm, slow-moving T'ai Chi Chih while surrounded by the roar of high winds.

I read #52 from The Second Book of the Tao yesterday and found its theme appropriate for today's political battles and misunderstandings. I quote it here (p. 104):
The duck's legs are short; you can't lengthen them
without making her suffer.
The crane's legs are long; you can't shorten them
without causing him pain.
What is long needs no cutting off;
what is short needs no stretching.
When you realize this,
you can let the world go its own way.
Do you think that you know what's best?
Do you think that the world
should conform to your way of thinking?
All these benevolent people--
how much worrying they do!
Since ancient times,
what a lot of fuss and upheaval
the benefactors of humanity have caused!
Stephen Mitchell's commentary on this reading is insightful and highly relevant to the growing chasm between political parties and people espousing varying beliefs and values. He explains this reading thusly:
     Even with the kindest of intentions, you can't try to change people without inflicting violence on them and on yourself....
     Wheneven I believe that you are too much or not enough, I am caught in a delusion, and I suffer. Those ducks--they're perfect just the way they are, waddling around on their adorable little legs. And cranes stride through the marsh on legs not a millimeter too long. There may be a lot that needs fixing, but there's nothing out there to fix.
If I can only remember that I am a duck and you are a crane and we are each perfect in our own way, life would be much simpler now wouldn't it? And so it goes....

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