I want to share the source of my blog’s name, Done and Left Undone. This is a passage by Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu.
In the pursuit of knowledge, everyday something is added.
In the practice of the Way, every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way. It can’t be gained by interfering.
I read this passage last year, and it’s been rolling around my brain ever since. While I don’t fully understand it yet, I sense something true here. In our culture of glorified busyness, we are always doing, and yet there is so much left to be done. The more we do, the more needs to be done.
When I started my first job after college, I was thrilled to finally have a steady income. But after a short time, what had initially seemed like a decent salary felt inadequate as my wants and needs grew along with my income. The chase was on. No matter how hard I worked, that finish line kept moving just out of reach. In the words of The Notorious B.I.G., Mo Money, Mo Problems.
But this isn’t just about money, of course. I needed to learn to stop the “If only” thinking. If only I got a promotion, then I would be happy. If only I got another degree. If only I lost five pounds. If only I owned a house. If only, if only, if only… Enough already. It’s time to stop wearing ourselves out chasing after the things we think will make us better, happier, more fulfilled, more worthy of love.
It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
It finally occurred to me that maybe I’m not too busy. Maybe I don’t have too much to do. Maybe I’m choosing the wrong things, pushing myself in too many different directions that don’t make me any happier. So, my motto for 2017 is: Less force, more flow.
Here’s the thing: What if it doesn’t have to be so hard? What if I could stop interfering and get out of my own way? What if I could stop trying to swim upstream and instead wait for the current to pull me?
I’m finally learning to sit with myself quietly sometimes. I am finally learning to recognize that there is already enough and there has always been enough. I am already enough. And so are you.