There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.
How do you feel about yourself? Do you measure your worth by how successful or how pretty you are; how much money you make, or how your talent is rated by the global economy these days? For quite a long time now, I couldn’t value or appreciate myself. I don’t feel like working in a company or an organization of any sorts. From an economic perspective, I don’t hold much value. I don’t make any money and I don't seem to have much prospects of changing that any time soon.
I enjoy writing; I have an eye for beauty; I practice meditation; I love music and writing poems. However, by today's economic standards all these talents are not worth that much. So for a long time I thought that the only way to prove that I am worth a spot in this world is that I need to be good at working, making money, good at house work, and good at parenting. I worked so hard to prove myself and made myself busy and anxious in the process. I increasingly became frustrated. No matter how hard I worked, nothing of this was really me. I lost my glamor and joy.
One morning, a realization came to me. By achieving nothing, I actually achieve a lot! I don’t earn any money by meditation, writing, or walking in the nature. However, by allowing myself to do all these things I enjoy, I am able to bring joy, peace, love, and beauty to the people and environment around me. Without having a goal, I am able to have time and space to be there for any one who needs me; without having to work like anyone else, I have time to create and write the pieces which inspires me and share with you. By doing all these things, I am joyful, peaceful and loving. I am happy!
Just like the empty space you see in any painting, or silence in between the music, they seem useless and don’t express anything at all. However, without these empty space and silence, these painting and music master piece would be worthless. What would happen if there were no people devote their time for music, painting, meditation, or any forms of arts? We would lose our soul with it. Contemplating all of this, Verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching came to mind.
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space that makes it livable.
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.
Christian is an economist and he tells me that we are moving into a new phase of globalization - The Creative Age - that is finally willing to assign new value to whatever it is that makes us human. What he cannot tell me though, is whether it takes a decade or a hundred years to realign these priorities. Meanwhile though, I am happy to specialize in Lao-Tzu's non-being as I have realized that the Tao rewards me amply for performing my role in society.
By Su Zhen