Today is my birthday, and it is one of those birthdays with a zero in it, the kind of thing that makes you think, “If thirteen-year-old me could see me now, she’d be saying WHAT THE FUCK!!?!!?”
I first became interested in Taoism at a young age, but I could not fully embrace it then. That makes sense to me. I don’t think you should be a Taoist in your twenties. I think you should probably be on fire, trying to save the world. You won’t, and then you’ll need to figure out how not to be cranky about that fact, and then you’ll need Taoism. But not before.
For most of my life I have been a type A, achievement-oriented person, and so my response to every challenge that comes my way is to do something about it, which is why being Jessica’s mother is so maddening. There is nothing I can do about it. There ought to be! I don’t care how impossible the task might be, I would get it done.
But there isn’t anything to do other than to accept, which turns out to be one of those damned annoying Life Lessons that I am always doing my level best to avoid.
A few months ago, I had the random realization that every single thing that is a problem in my life, or that I consider a problem, is the direct result of my trying to solve some other problem. Yes, indeed, every problem I have was once a solution. Eating too much is a way to cope with stress. Teaching that class I hate teaching is way to pay the rent. Overspending on dining out is a way to deal with the fact that I don’t have enough time to cook from scratch.
So at first I thought, well that sounds a lot like life, it’ll bite you in the ass no matter what, and I started solving the problems I had created by trying to solve problems and I think you can guess where this is headed.
So then I thought, Dear Zeus, I am going to have to stop solving problems, and that is very hard for a person like me, harder than pretty much anything I’ve done in life, until finally I had the aha! moment that apparently all this dumbass work has been driving towards: I realized I needed to stop having problems.
Now you may not believe me but this is way easier than it sounds, or at least it’s way easier than it sounds once you realize every other approach you’ve ever tried has failed.
Once I stopped thinking of life as a problem to be solved, it suddenly became a lot more interesting.