Have you ever paid attention to how life just seems to gently lead you in the direction you need to go? Even during those times when you think things are falling apart, there eventually comes a moment where you come around the metaphorical bend, you see where life has been taking you, and it all makes sense. You suddenly understand that everything has been for a reason.
This is not a spirituality column, but in my own quest to find meaning in life, I’ve been most impressed with the concepts of Taoism (or Daoism, as some spelling fanatics insist). My favorite part of Taoism is the idea of “action through inaction”, or “progress without struggling”, or simply “flow”. In short, you let go of expectations, don’t force anything, and instead learn to flow with the energy around you to get to where you want to go. It’s akin to a sailboat adjusting the angle of the sail to set a course, no matter what direction the wind happens to be blowing. Many martial arts fighters incorporate this concept when they use their opponent’s own forward motion to throw them across the room.
In Taoism, the yin-yang symbolizes this concept of flow. It’s impossible to convey in a static image, but the yin-yang is meant to be rotating, not stationary. Sometimes the white part is up, and then as it rotates, the black part gradually reaches the top. This is a metaphor for life, how things are always in a state of change. For me personally, it’s a reminder that life has its ups and downs, its light and dark, and that I should neither get too attached to good times, or worry too much about bad times, because things always change eventually.
So what does any of this have to do with manliness? David Deida, in his amazing book, “The Way of the Superior Man”, talks about the importance of living your purpose as a man. In fact, he states that, by definition, masculine energy is driven by a sense of mission. In contrast, feminine energy is driven by emotion and relationship.
Deida describes the journey towards your deepest purpose as digging through layers. You throw your energy into something that calls to you, but eventually your enthusiasm will start to wane. When that happens, if you are patient and watching, you’ll eventually be called to something else, a deeper purpose. This process of flowing with the energy of purpose will eventually lead you to your deepest purpose, your ultimate mission as a man, your highest expression of your authentic masculine self.
For me, it’s sometimes tough to see how successful and talented other teachers and coaches are. I sometimes feel like my efforts are unnecessary, at best, because everything I teach is also taught by many others, and they are much more effective at getting their message out there. It’s easy for me to get stuck in discouraging thoughts. I feel like giving up and leaving the job of teaching to others who are better at it.
At these times, I have to remind myself why I’m doing what I do. It’s not because I’m the best at it, or because anyone else necessarily needs me to do it. It’s because this is what calls to me. It’s because this is what I choose to do, because it fulfills me. My desire, my purpose, is to teach the things I’ve learned and experienced, things that have improved my own life in amazing ways, to others who could benefit from it.
I also have to remind myself that I’m still digging through my own layers of purpose. I’m still pretty new at this, and certainly haven’t dug very deep yet. I’m still in my apprenticeship phase, if you will, learning and growing in ways that will ultimately prepare me for my deepest purpose, whatever that turns out to be. I haven’t yet seen around the bend; I don’t know what’s there. But I’m looking forward to finding out.
What about you? Where are you, on your journey of purpose? Do you struggle against the universe, or flow with its energy to move forward? How do you remind yourself that all is as it should be, and everything will turn out as it needs to, in the end?