Instead of being a mountain, be the valley of the universe so all things will come to you. –Lao Tzu
i love this quote and have been considering it for awhile now…
i love it because i get the sensation of rest and quietude… of not having to hurry anywhere, of a sunday afternoon baking some wonderful winter delight that perfumes the whole house… i don’t have to be Anywhere. ah, awesome.
although it wasn’t that way at first… when i first read this quote, i was totally annoyed. it talked at me like a sexist version of a way to find “peace and harmony” saying: honey, you be the girl. you wait there. Be the valley. wait. it was an order. i thought: why can’t i be the Mountain? who wants to be the valley? aren’t we doers? i own my own business, my own house… what if i want to make a plan, set a goal, benchmark my points, write a list, visualize it in a powerpoint and share it all with my sister? exhausting, maybe… but my way if i wanted it.
slowly, i started noticing this Mountain-valley issue coming up often in my life. for instance, my new house literally sits in a valley. (it’s the only house on my block that is planted like that. is it a sign?) and my boyfriend poked at me by saying i didn’t have to be the boss at home. and then my family wanted to have the holidays at their house. what’s up with that? christmas has always been mine to host. everywhere it seemed the world was saying: bend, bend.
this all got me thinking even more (a Mountain issue i’m sure)… how often am i the Mountain in my relationships? (at this point, i can’t help hearing the line from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ – when Sally is yelling at Harry at their friend’s wedding: “who’s the dog in this relationship? am i the dog? am i the dog?) am i the Mountain because i am confident in what i want? don’t we all want things to go our way? where won’t i yield? then: what would happen if i let go a little? what if i rode along, so to speak, instead of being the driver?
so i relaxed into it a little … agreed to outings instead of planning them, cooked what the boyfriend wanted instead of what was best for him, stopped insisting on things with my mom, even relaxed my patient schedule a bit. and i played with my sister’s baby. ah, that did it. he laughs alot and from what i can tell, it’s for no reason at all. surprisingly, a 5-month old can be an excellent teacher. (who knew?) it was good, this rolling along. and it doesn’t even hurt. even better, life is easier.
i’m probably still the Mountain in my bones but am learning to be the valley in my heart. (practice, practice.) i may still be the one that feels i need to gather up the world and plan for all possibilities, and you know, rule it. but i guess it’s also nice to sit on my deck and watch the trees.
sidebar: i’ve thought about putting a plaque at the top of my driveway naming my new house ‘The Valley’ ( like they do boats or plantations or ranches) but don’t think the meaning will come across in any profound way. and naming it ‘The Valley of The Universe’ sounds a little pretentious and i don’t want to freak out my neighbors.