Growing up the martial arts community it is almost impossible for me to think of “a path” without the concept of the Tao or Dao. Contrary to the notion of a well defined boulevard or road The Way or The Path has always been explained to me as more of an attitude than a plan.
It is not the line you take in a direction but the manner in which you pass along it that matters. I feel more and more that this way is fluid rather than solid. If I set out with a track in mind I will surely miss all the things that are not directly in front of me.
Back home; in the mountains, under the redwoods I could always find a place devoid of ware. Territory where there is no path. I would go up the craggy mountains single-mindedly. Looking forward. Blazing my own trail. I was never worried about getting lost even though the area was vast and could be dangerous.
Here, I don’t have to worry about cliffs, mountian lions, rattle snakes or earthquakes though there is the ever-present fear of ticks and possible lyme disease as I meander through the back woods.
I still wander.
I always have and I suspect, always will. Regardless of what side of the country I live on.
Now, I go with no direction or destination in mind. I stop frequently in order to hear the wind and watch the birds fly and call to one another.
There are buds on all the trees now. Very soon the forest will start its sprint toward the sky. I make my way down to the bog, past the sunlit survivors of fall.
I love the deep leaf drifts that cover the ground, I know that beneath them is layers and layers of life waiting for it to warm up so they can reach for the sun. Walking this non-path through the woods makes me miss home much less.
I have learned to go slowly in my old age and foreign situation. To stop look and listen before deciding where to head, instead of bulling my way straight up the mountain. I feel now what I could only be told as a brazen youth; that I have more to learn than I have to teach. The best teachers are silent, at least they don’t speak english or have pod casts. You have to be still.
I guess the really important thing is to have a space to wander, free from human structure or design. An effortless natural system; still sane and complete. Land that wants for nothing because it respects what it has and lets its inhabitants be as they are.
The expectation of nothing, almost the exact opposite of a path. Yet, everything still follows The Way. It is not a goal or static process toward anything other than the sun and the chance to feel the light of another morning.
The forest in early spring is a good example of the Taoist path and my submission to the challenge:
Before the tops fill in and a defined way becomes more obvious.
The possibilities are endless and there is no tick covered underbrush to hinder my desires. I love it here and now. Even though it is not my native land, I have come to truly appreciate this place that has forced me to learn so much about myself and a whole part of the world I would not have met otherwise.
Good luck on your way and remember that your path may lead you away from the road. Go there if you are called; because that is where life lives.
Be well! Thank you for reading!