th-8This is the part of practicals, wherever you are, no matter your station in life.  From washing dishes, to raking leaves, to riding trains or walking in rivers, we can know the Tao.  All forms of life are a form of play and if we divorce ourselves from the conventional, cultural and contrived constraints of meaning and “status,” we can and will know freedom.

I know this because, over my own lifetime, I have, for “pay,” washed dishes, driven security vans, operated and fixed tractors, sold jeans in a retail store, achieved at and completed graduate school, served as the Director of a Trauma Team in a major teaching hospital, volunteered at libraries and wildlife rescue centers, provided service as a bodyworker and massage therapist, worked as a receptionist, accountant and water works specialist, served as a pet/house sitter, wild-crafted and made my own organic salves, cut my own wood for warmth and fished streams for my own food, conducted weeks-long vision quests throughout the Southwest in a 1977 Westphalia camper van (and you have to know how to “wrench” that engine yourself in the middle of nowhere to do so) and lived in a 10’x10′ cabin with no electric, no phone, just me and a wood stove and cold running water from a stream.  The expansion of self, the willingness to find ourselves in any and all situations and the self-found capacity to know that we can handle all of them is what allows us full, rich and authentic expression of self in this one lifetime.

Tth-9his one life is a mandala, and the more we fill the individual aspects of it’s totality, the more we become and the more we have upon which to draw in contemplating, creating and living an holistic life.  Our once narrow parameters of being and visioning grow larger and do, indeed, begin to encompass a much larger and wider horizon for us and all of humanity, in deep relationship with nature.

Inclusion is the way of the Tao.  This does not mean we simply accept everything.  Not at all.  It means, based on our accumulated wisdom by engaging in many different forms of self expression, curiosity and coming to know our own values, that we see and discern how we wish to engage with any given situation.  Varied experiences give us that most mature, adult and wise ability of spiritual discernment and our choices in how we wish to act and be while we are here.  We may wish to accept or reject, either in totality or in part, anything that comes our way.  That choice is our individual power and that which makes us unique in a multi-universe.

Train Riding

Way back when, both in Europe and the United States, when trains actually road smoothly, haltingly and clickety-clackety down steel tracks,  I learned the beauty of balance.  Not intellectual readings of lovely, poetic, platitudes of balance but, rather, the real, uncertain, often smelly (trains are full of people of many different cultures, all of whom exude their own aromas – including my own), jerky, topsy-turvy motions of a vehicle totally outside of our control.  They were, then, guided by human hands, whose adeptness  at the controls could make the arrival at a station either smooth or abrupt.

I lived in Boston, then, and was also then well-ensconced in my “Tao Family” and my teacher’s instructions to find the balance, quite literally, in the tan tien.

“Don’t rise up, sink down,” he always said to me – and he was right.

In Boston, no one drives around in a car – well, they do, but those of us who did not want to deal with the th-10hassles of traffic and parking and all such to do what we wanted to do rode the trains.  On those rides, instead of sitting resolutely in my chair and being banged around by the movements of the train, I would stand up, step into the center of the train, let go of ALL supports, and engage in a total body workout by “surfing” it’s movements.  It was, indeed, a form of free exercise and strength training far better than any contrived “workout machine” in a gym.

There, in the confines of a certain/uncertain vehicle of transport, I found my center.  Like surfing on an ocean wave, one must find the flexibility in the knees, the suppleness of the ankles, the sign of infinity within the pelvis that can circle, move, rise up, rise down and circle with ease.  One can also find the ancient concept and real, practical usefulness of finding one’s “Tiger Toes,” as one settles weight into the feet and grips the floor during sharp turns or sudden “stop and go” play that that kind of train provides.

All the while, one finds the movement of the appendages, particularly in the arms, as one glides over smooth sailing and then has to find balance in the falterings and waverings of a train in motion.

In so doing, such a simple exercise made into play, we find the dynamic core of our being – able to steady and yield and move with events outside of our control.   Though we are at the mercy of something outside of ourselves we can, indeed, find the power and command within to remain “at center” no matter what may befall us.

Every single time I found myself at my “stop,” after which I had engaged in play with the movement of the vehicle that had taken me there, I felt refreshed, renewed and just so much more confident in my individual ability to handle and move through that which had been serendipitously given me to maneuver.


This is the heart of the Tao.  The Tao is about DOING and expressing yourself and making yourself known through that doing.

th-11So go on, get your urban surfboards out and find that which can return you to your nature.  Make if fun, make it creative.  Ride that surfboard . . . whether a train or a bus or a shopping cart on your way to your car out in the parking lot or an escalator in your favorite shopping mall or a bannister down the stairs of your own home or dancing around with the spray washer at your favorite self car wash.

SURF it.  MOVE it.  ENGAGE with it to the fullest heart of your being.

THAT is what makes you YOU – totally unique in your self-expression.

Whatever you do, make it your own – it’s how others will remember you after you are dead and long gone.

Make that mark of you on the planet – it contributes so much to the vast cosmic painting of total life, all of whose individual colors and hues make it beautiful.

Splash yourself upon it’s canvas.

Play with it’s colors and, in that play, you become that much more dear to those you love and who love you.