#46: Consider Beginnings
Do without doing and the power of the way
Howdy to all of my dear readers, friends, and family. 🤠
It’s a beautiful late afternoon in Berkeley. Right about the time when the sun blazes into my window and I have to close my curtains so that I am not blinded by the light. I’m still squinting a little bit from the brightness but, I’m certainly not complaining. Sun is good. ☀️
I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be in your inbox. I know we all try to keep our inbox a sacred space, reserved for only the most useful content, for information that is worthy of our attention - attention that seems to be pulled in all different directions these days. As if everyone wants our eyeballs, from pesky advertisers to social media gangsters to sneaky marketers.
I try to be mindful of that and not send you posts that you may mistake for spam. It can be a real hell hole on the Internet and I don’t want to contribute to the mess of shoddy information.
With that in mind, I asked myself, when I sat down to write this newsletter, what is the most important thing that I have access to that I can send to my newsletter subscribers? What is something I can send that will brighten their weekends? That will put a smile on their face? That will make their weekend a little more relaxing and effortless?
Here’s what I came up with: a small poem from 2,500 years ago.
You may be surprised at how prescient the poem feels, at just how much the words and emotions continue to ring true. It’s as if we had the poem’s author, Lao Tzu, over for dinner and the conversation turned to the state of the world. “Consider beginnings,” Lao Tzu would say, as he sipped on some whiskey.
The poem is from the book the Tao Te Ching, translated by Ursula Le Guin and originally written by Lao Tzu. I picked it up from the public library the other week. Here it is:
The poem is called “Consider Beginnings.”
Take your time reading it. Read it once, then read it again.
Then read the author’s note:
This charmingly complex chapter plays with two proverbs. "Requite injuries with good deeds" is the first. The word te, here meaning goodness or good deeds, is the same word Lao Tzu uses for the Power of the Way. (Power is goodness, he says in chapter 49.) So, having neatly annexed the Golden Rule, he goes on to the proverb about "taking things too lightly" and plays paradox with it.
I am very interested to hear what thoughts came up for you as you read the poem. Please share them in the comments so others can also benefit from your wisdom.
I have only one request.
Do not rush to respond. Take the weekend to let the poem simmer. Have the words percolate in the back of your mind as you go about your Saturday and Sunday. Only when you feel ready, leave a comment.
I’m excited to read next week what you have to share. 😄