This Friday’s meditation is an original in the Taoist spirit:
Try to be everywhere, and you will find yourself nowhere.
Try to be there for everyone, and you will be there for no one.
Try to always be available, and you will never be available.
Try to work all the time, and you will not work anytime.
Build a small fire and sit close to it,
and you won’t need as much wood.
This koan was inspired by correspondence I had with a friend last weekend. He’s burning himself out by trying to do too much – the success he has found exceeds his ability to keep it going. But he can’t stop feeding the fire.
I wrote yesterday that productivity is not about getting more things done, but rather about the nature of things we’re doing and how they fit into our flourishing. Sitting close to your fire and basking in its warmth is far better than doing so much scrambling to keep the fire going that you never enjoy its heat.
Though the writing style is inspired by the Tao Te Ching, the final sentence actually comes from what my grandfather used to say. He always counseled his people to build a small fire and sit close to it.
What’s your fire? Are you sitting close to it or struggling to keep it going?