“Buildings and bridges are made to bend in the wind.
To withstand the world, that’s what it takes.
All that steel and stone is no match for the air, my friend.
What doesn’t bend, breaks. What doesn’t bend, breaks…”
~Ani Difranco, “Buildings & Bridges”
The secret to a structure that can withstand an earthquake, a hurricane, is its ability to move with the storm.
If a building is too rigid, it won’t be able to take the extra pressure on it, and it will crack and crumble. But if it can sway when the ground sways—if it can move with the gale-force winds instead of trying to stand solid against them—it will survive.
This is the concept behind the practice of Tai Chi—to fight back by not fighting back, to diffuse your opponent’s energy until he wears himself out. You neutralize the oncoming attacks by yielding to them. You become the building, accepting the forces of the storm, and eventually, the storm runs its course—and there you still stand, calm and serene as a Zen master.
This needs to be my visualization for myself, because things have definitely gone astray…
How NOT to Live
Lately, I’ve felt under siege—by my own obligations, by the emergencies and inconveniences that spring up in daily life, by the very act of getting from the morning to the evening in one somewhat un-dented piece. I feel exhausted. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like, in spite of having so many amazing things to be thankful for, life is just one big demanding wave-after-wave, and I’m being tossed around like a rag doll.
But that’s the thing: I’m not being tossed around like a rag doll. That would imply yielding. Instead, I’m bracing for the next onslaught and swimming like mad against the current whenever the tides calm down for a minute, instead of letting them take me where they may and using my energy wisely.
And most of this is my own stupid fault. Most of these waves are of my own creation, and after fighting through so many challenges I’ve brought unnecessarily upon myself, it’s no wonder I feel at my wits’ end when something unexpected pops up, like the husband getting bronchitis on top of a stomach bug as I start to come down with a cold. A better-strategized person would be able to handle these curveballs more gracefully.
Then again, a better-strategized person would be able to make it through a normal day more gracefully, too.
Clearly, I am not very good at what I’m doing. Blogging and freelancing and day-jobbing? Sure, I do those pretty well. But just being a human being alive and happy with her life? Not so much. And it’s clearly time I start working more on that again, because that used to be a part of what this was all about…
The Tides, They Are A-Turning
Somewhere along the way, I got so caught up in the Grand Master Plan that I forgot about the underlying plan for this blog: “setting myself on a mission to learn to live deliberately. To make intentional choices, to live an intentional life, and to try to make each day just a little bit closer to the life I’d like to live.”
Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of that simpler, much more complex goal. And in order to ever get myself back to a point of equilibrium where I can know how much is enough to truly make me “happy,” I need to first get myself to a point of non-trying. Of non-fighting.
I need to learn to stop struggling and hustling and striving and doing, and just be. I need to strip everything away again and then start building things back on, intentionally and purposefully.
I need to learn to be happy and still, and to be happy being happy and still. (Not just keep writing about it, but finally sit the fuck down and do it, she reminds herself.)
I need to focus more on the Quits and less on the hustling, at least until I can gain the wisdom to learn to hustle the right way.
I need to learn to bend.
That bending starts now…
Image: Matthias Weinberger
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