Some days I have a lot to do. Or so I think. I make lists, get to work, cross them off diligently, make more lists, get to work, make more lists, get to work...and suddenly notice I am descending into a vortex of unnecessary activity. Work, for me, can often lead to chaos. Discipline has never been my forte. Ever. I move in gusts and eddies, then settle, immobile, for a day or two, then up again and the dance resumes.
This month I had many plans. Canning fruit, making more herbal products, a Fall Fair, drying fruit, sewing more linen for Fig Love, cooking and freezing fruit and produce. Did I mention I have a lot of produce I need to do something with? It was all going great; until I got a stomach bug and was taken out for a week.
And so I slept, and watched movies, listened to audio books and slept some more and somewhere in there I heard this little quote from the Tao Te Ching.
The gentlest thing in the world
overcomes the hardest thing in the world.
That which has no substance
enters where there is no space.
This shows the value of non-action.
Teaching without words,
performing without actions;
that is the Master’s way.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 43, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
I love the way my body knows when I'm performing beyond my strength and shuts me down. She is a good teacher. In my state of inability, I am able to see more clearly those things which matter and those that don't. I cancel the Fall Fair, I let some pears go rotten, I compost some plums, and I postpone some medicine making deadlines.
The sun wants to burrow its way into my soft skin and the linen can wait while I watch laughing dogs careen around my wild property and observe my husband fixing the old shed to accommodate some dairy goats that will be coming soon.
Oh dear! Did I say goats? Yep, I'm generally up to something new. But I am happy each time I am reminded that it is the joyful moments, the ones I fall into like a sweet rhythm, where I lose track of time and know I'm in my soft space, that are the ways I want to fill my days.
I don't really understand the Tao. And maybe this quote really doesn't have anything to do with my own little application here, but I like it. Of course, of course, I need to get things done. But I am not surprised anymore with how many of the things I think I NEED TO DO, don't REALLY need to be done.