One of the central theses of philosophical Taoism is this notion that there are as many ways as there are beings. Each life form has an innate nature that is different and unique from other life forms. I was reminded of this idea when I read the following article posted at The Guardian.
Any day now, billions of cicadas with bulging red eyes will crawl out of the earth after 17 years underground and overrun the US east coast. They will arrive in such numbers that people from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered roughly 600 to one. Maybe more.
But ominous as that sounds — along with scientists' horror-movie name for the infestation, Brood II — they're harmless. These insects won't hurt you or other animals. At worst, they might damage a few saplings or young shrubs. Mostly they will blanket certain pockets of the region, though lots of people won't ever see them.
"It's not like these hordes of cicadas suck blood or zombify people," says May Berenbaum, a University of Illinois entomologist.
They're looking for just one thing: sex. And they've been waiting quite a long time.
Since 1996, this group of one-inch bugs, in wingless nymph form, has been a few feet underground, sucking on tree roots and biding their time. They will emerge only when the ground temperature reaches precisely 64F. After a few weeks up in the trees, they will die and their offspring will go underground, not to return until 2030.
Other cicadas do not follow this unique pattern. It is not part of their innate nature. If a cicada king or queen arose and tried to force all cicadas to live underground for 17 long years, most of them would die in short order! It is not their way.
It is the same with people. What might work for you might not work for me and vice versa. The way you achieved success in some endeavor may have worked for you fantastically, but if I followed the same steps, I may or may not succeed as you did. In fact, it might so happen that the path I took was the exact opposite of yours and yet I achieved much the same goals and objectives that you did.
Just like this type of cicada, we each must seek out and follow our own paths. And we should remember that path seeking is not a competition. Just because you and I choose different roads does not mean that one is superior to the other. That would be like saying that the path of the 17 year cicada is that much better than the path of the 13 year or annual cicada!
This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.