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Who's Really in Charge?

Water flowing with hourglass

Taoism teaches us to follow rather than lead – to be the guest, not the host. What can this reveal about who is really in charge?

It’s interesting to consider all of the ways we have no control. Our belief that we are in charge is what generally leads to frustration and disappointment.

First of all, we showed up here with no instructions, as if direction would come through participation in what unfolds. If we were in charge, we would have the ability to see far into the future to orchestrate our own existence. We don’t.

As an infant, we developed emotional responses and sounds to fulfill our immediate needs. While we may not get what we ask for, we always get what we need.

Becoming the master of our response allows us to see how life is fulfilling us in ways we may not have recognized otherwise.

We breathe, circulate blood, and our body is healing itself continuously without any thought on our part. Our hair grows, and our cells replenish themselves. Much of how we will live and even how we will die remains a mystery.

In school, our budding authenticity is subjected to peer pressure. We don’t realize that much of our instinctual expression will be thwarted by conformity. Even then, nature has devised a way to balance the input with its own operating system. The mind too, heals itself while we dream.

Out in the work force, the pace of our development picks up rapidly. Before we know it, our daily routine is reduced to working to obtain the kaleidoscope of products and services that are we are told we need.

Once we reach the far end of our consumerism, we realize we have no choice but to continue working. How much of what you believe you need is real?

Taoism also teaches us to cultivate a sense of minimalism. Keeping to simplicity actually allows to be present without all of the neediness that can distract our return to wonder.

We don’t control the weather and we don’t control time, even though our sensation of it speeding or slowing can seem very real.

Whether others like us or not and whether we have children or become grandparents…these are things we might desire, but remain beyond our control.

We have no choice of where we are born and to which economic strata. No matter how much time we spend searching for the truth, ultimately a day will come when we are forced to admit that there are no absolutes in life.

Cultivate the unfathomable.

The brain seems to imagine that it makes choices, but it is influenced by the input of others, society and the root of our emotional well-being. We also don’t understand how our genes may influence behavior. You would be surprised to learn how much of your ideas are operating on unconscious input.

The only thing that you can control is how you react. You can work to overturn your assumptions by letting go and realizing that each day is new. Keep to simplicity. Take each step with appreciation. Wander in wonder.

By cultivating compassion and patience, the mystery always reveals itself.