career advice from the Tao

In times of reflection I sometimes turn to the Tao Te Ching (the book of The Way), written by Lao-Tzu, for guidance. Over these past several days my thinking has taken several synchronistic turns and I realize that the path I chose to walk several years ago is still the path I am on. It seems though that over the past 10 months I haven’t been walking the path, that I had rejected that which I had once embraced. But this morning I realized that I have just been taking a break, that I had only momentarily set my backpack aside to rest for a moment on the trail. And now I feel ready to continue on with a clearer sense of purpose and thought.

I opened the book of The Way and the passage I settled on was this:

He who stands on tiptoe
doesn’t stand firm.
He who rushes ahead
doesn’t go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can’t know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can’t empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
just do your job, then let go.

And even as I reflect on these words I can feel the weight of my pack settle on my shoulders, hips and back, and it feels good and right.

(This translation of the Tao Te Ching was taken from Stephen Mitchell.)

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