Never jump out of the same hole twice.
We all yearn for success. Not just the success of money, prestige, or power — the simple success of having things work. If you have a hobby like gardening, you love to see your flowers respond to your care. If you are in school, you want to master your courses. If you are a scientist, you look for results from your experiments. All of us want to be successful.
But once you hit on something that does work, it takes great courage to keep going beyond your limits. This is especially obvious in creative fields such as art, music, and writing. It is hard to reach an appreciative audience; once you find something that works, it is hard to let go of it. You keep doing the same thing, like musicians who make a career of performing the same tune. But no matter what your field of endeavor, you mustn’t do that. Don’t jump out of the same hole twice. You may not be as materially successful, but you will be more successful on a larger level.
Spirituality is creativity. Only with creativity can you have the power to follow Tao. Only with creativity can you remold your personality into a spiritual vehicle. Only with a great breadth of variation can you follow the constantly changing Tao. Therefore, when following Tao, don’t cling to methods and dogma. Be spontaneous.
Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao
“Every hour of the day and night, and every acre of the earth and shore, and every point or patch of the sea and sky, is full of pictures” — Walt Whitman
“Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all must be tasted.”
– Chinese Proverb
“It is good to vary in order that you may frustrate the curious, especially those who envy you.”
– Baltasar Gracian, The Oracle
“Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour.” — William Cowper
“Variety is the spice of life – one day ignore people, next day annoy them” — My refrigerator magnet
“If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.”
– John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved.” — Aristotle
“In the time of your life, live – so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.” — William Saroyan
“The finest souls are those that have the most variety and suppleness” — Michel de Montaigne
Ah, this speaks to my heart today! Yes, the engineer in me is always wanting things to work, and dealing with the variety of ways in which things don’t work.
The gardener in me loves the success of my garden, yet also thrills to the variety of plants – nothing thrills me more than to discover a new variety of a plant I love. At one point I had over sixty sages in my garden, out of around, oh, six thousand or so varieties. The singer in me quit music theatre when she realized that getting ahead in the music theatre business was not about enjoying singing the wondrous variety of music out there, but becoming very good at one particular kind (no, I really didn’t want to be an opera singer! Not to mention that it was all about sucking up to the right people… ) The artist in me loves to create new work, thrilling to the variety of colors and media and ways of expressing myself. I am far more likely to be exploring a new way of painting than to be perfecting the work I do, since my art is about self-expression and not commercial value. I’m not a good artist, but I am one, in spite of that. The writer in me loves creating this variety of postings on various topics, which change as my interests change. For now, the Tao inspires me, and politics, as it once inspired Whitman, but later on it will be something else. You need only to look at my blogroll to get a small sense of the various things that interest me. My days are all varied – I spend a lot of time on the web, but always looking at something different, looking *for* something different – a new opinion, a new writer, a new spark that catches my eye and makes me go “ah!” – you think differently! Let’s talk about it! ”
Nature is so full of variety, and we are all so different, so unique – that is what is most wonderful to me about people. The people who attract me are those who know they are unique and special, who celebrate themselves and their uniqueness, or, at times, those who fail to appreciate the wonderful qualities they have, and I try to do that for them – to let them know how unique and wonderful and special they are and why I love them for it. And sometimes, I take that too far and push them too hard to explore what great people they are, and they walk away. It has left me sad, it has left me crazy at times, but it never ever dimmed my love for them or my appreciation for their wonderful variety, their way of being human.
I hate it when people just want to fit in, to be part of the group, to not stand out. Especially in children. I deplore how our schools drive out their uniqueness, their wonderful talents and abilities and convince them they aren’t good at anything. (Like my above comment on not being a good artist). I want my kids to know they are unique and special, I thrill when my son sticks a “Normal People Worry Me” sticker on his door or says “Thank You!” when I call him weird. They love being “nerds”, being “leet”, feeling special in their own wonderful way.
And I guess a lot of this comes from growing up in America, for which I am thankful. I’ve heard Europeans comment on how we always stand out overseas, by our confidence, sometimes our arrogance, our conviction in ourselves. And I love that. If there is one thing that is great about America that is it. And I deplore those who want to drive it out, who want to make us all Christian Nation This or Moral Majority That. As Whitman so wonderfully pointed out, the glory of America is in its diversity, in its ability to bring out the best in everyone. And sadly, we are losing that. Our public schools train us to be worker bees as the private schools train theirs to be owners, instead of giving us all the same shot. (And the Christian Right schools train their kids to be congressional aids and campaign workers).
People don’t think they matter anymore, they don’t believe that they as individuals count for anything. They move to be part of the “winning team”, and let the Republicans roll over their rights, their jobs, their very livelihood while enriching the pockets of the wealthy, and they convince themselves that this is ok, that the top dogs deserve the steak while they end up with the bone. It’s because they have lost that wonderful quality that says, “I’m unique”. Liberals have a tough time organizing because they all recognize their own individuality. But in coming together as individuals, we can bring out the very best in all of us. This is what we all need to understand, to “get”, to learn how to “frame” – that what is great about America is that we are all the child of the one country that encourages us to be ourselves, no matter what, to say what we will, no matter what, that we have inalienable rights.
Let’s pursue our happiness, already, dammit.