Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Real Life Tao - 40 Days and 40 Nights

Trey Smith

While talking on the phone last night, Della and I calculated how long it's been since we last saw each other. Once we pinpointed our last day of face-to-face contact, we realized we have been apart for 40 days and 40 nights! She is planning to come home the weekend after next and, at that point, the meter will be up to 50 days. This is not the outcome of her AmeriCorps experience that we desired, but it is what it is.

So often, when people reference the Taoist concept of to "go with the flow," it has to do with positive or rather innocuous aspects of life. In such situations, the idea is not to trip up yourself and instead to enjoy the ride. We often serve as the catalysts for the obstacles that limit our ability to be successful, so the ancient sages encourage us not to throw up hurdles in our own paths.

But a lot of this life involves circumstances and situations that are not of our choosing. Things pan out in a way that make us unhappy or uncomfortable. In these situations, we often try to force the circumstances to meet with our approval and when they don't, as they often don't, we become miserable and wallow in self-pity.

For me, the notion of "going with the flow" is more meaningful when that flow is going in what we view as the wrong direction. There certainly are times when we have the ability to alter that flow for the benefit of all, but more often than not, we do not possess that capability. And so, all we end up doing is tilting at windmills and making ourselves very unhappy in the process.

Della and I do not like the circumstance we find ourselves in, but we both have decided to "go with the flow." We have decided to make the best of a bad situation. We realize now that we will be lucky to see each other more than a couple of days each month until July 15 and so we will try to make the most of our brief times together. Other than that, we will continue to talk several times per day on the phone and exchange emails frequently.

If nothing else, this experience has taught us a valuable lesson. As Della begins the process of applying for a full-term AmeriCorps position for this Fall, we need to do a better job of scouting out potential landing spots AND, more importantly, we will leave for the next one TOGETHER.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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