Wherever You Stand, Be the Soul of That Place

Photo Credit:New York Public Library/Unsplash

So, how are your spirits? Mine were in the toilet yesterday as I imagined another long-ass shift today at work, sanitizing, wearing masks and gloves, not hearing very well (hearing aids plus masks are a tough combo), talking with customers through plexiglass, having every little job take longer and feeling like I’m walking through mud. It’s going to be a beautiful and seductive May day and I’ll be chained inside, dealing with all this mess.

It would have been so easy just to let it go this one time and not send out a post. I don’t feel grateful right now. I just want to hide out. I’m mostly thinking about what’s worrying me. No one’s paying me for this, after all. Millions of readers aren’t watching every move or mentally redacting every sentence. I haven’t missed one Monday or Thursday in over four years. Surely I could coast, take a mulligan, everyone would understand. Who’d even miss it?

I have taken this seriously, no matter how many eyeballs I think are looking at this. I think it matters to have gratitude in front of us twice per week, like some North Star. You search the heavens and there it is, unfailingly, at the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.

One bit of wisdom I have managed to soak up from others over the last two or three decades is this–if you have a big enough why, the hows are easy. I’m grateful that the desire to live a gratitude-inspired life and share the journey with others who are interested, braided with my desire to write meaningfully and well, are a big enough why to navigate past momentary hiccups like I’m too tired or moody and “who cares about this anyway?” and I don’t have tens of thousands of followers, so why bother.

I was aware of feeling a little embarrassed at my petulant, little boy attitude and that it influenced my day and I also brought it home. I went to bed looking through my notes from The Snow Leopard, wondering how I could be like Peter Matthiessen today, and I found a passage where he is quoting from Jung.

Jung wrote–

The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing… He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths… There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing.

AHA! I thought. A problem about which the others know nothing. That’s me, today, and I don’t have to defend or explain it. “New and wonderful paths.”

He continues–

The only meaningful life is a life that strives for the individual realization–absolute and unconditional–of its own particular law… To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being… he has failed to realize his life’s meeting.

The undiscovered vein within us is a living part of the psyche; classical Chinese philosophy names this interior way “Tao,” and likens it to a flow of water that moves irresistibly towards its goal. To rest in Tao means fulfillment, wholeness, one’s destination reached, one’s mission done; the beginning, end, and perfect realization of the meaning of existence innate in all things.

It helped me to not be embarrassed about where I was. It is my journey and my path. I decided to take on Rumi’s advice. “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.”

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