Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strong Enough to Bend

Woman with Flower

I wouldn’t coax the plant if I were you.
Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.
Let the soil rest from so much digging
And wait until it’s dry before you water it.
The leaf’s inclined to find its own direction;
Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself.

Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding,
Too eager tenderness.
The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.
- Naomi Long Madgett 
My favourite line is the last one. It’s hard to leave alone what you love or who you love. To surrender. To let go. To stop trying to control.  
The 29th verse of the Tao Te Ching says
 Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled.
Trying to control leads to ruin.
Trying to grasp, we lose.

When I read this I am reminded of my teenage years when I was anorexic. I thought I had everything under control. I was obsessed with dieting and exercise. I thought I had total control over my body and my life. I thought this until the day I realized I was literally driving myself crazy. I became aware of the irony that I wasn’t the one in control – my obsession, my addiction to praise for being thin, was controlling me.
Although I intellectually know there are a lot of things out of my control, I still instinctually move to try to control things...especially the things I really want. It’s difficult to always trust the plant will grow without constant prodding and obsessing over every detail.
Our egos think things will only work out if we make them work out. If we force. If we fight. If we worry. If we stress. If we strive. We miss the signs in nature which reveal everything will work out and is in the divine right order.
Take for example the strength of palm trees in a hurricane. While buildings are destroyed, the palm trees survive the gale force winds because they bend. They allow. They let go. And so their strength lies in surrendering and yielding to the winds that would otherwise destroy them.  
Today, think of the palm trees. Where in your life can you relinquish control and be strong enough to bend?  

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