Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven, everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice. Tao Te Ching, 78
The geologic history of El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia
as I understand it is the story of water versus rock, with the water winning every time.
Simple observations like this are at the root of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese classic (see yesterday's post).
You can probably think of other ones...trees that are brittle break during heavy snows or high winds, while the flexible ones don't. People when healthy are pliable and flexible, but become rigid when they are dead. Extremes of wind or rain don't last long. People can't run at top speed for very long. It's hard to scream at the top of your lungs all day (even if you feel like it).
Better stop short than fill to the brim.
Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven. (9)
Recognizing these obvious truths and acting in accordance with them are the basic elements of living according to the Tao or way of things, according to Lao Tzu, legendary author of these words.
Unfortunately, people aren't very good at doing things the easy way and often force their intentions on nature or other people in unskillful ways and with undesirable consequences. The Tao Te Ching has a very sophisticated critique of force and aggression, about which more next time.
SPEAKING OF CRITIQUES OF AGGRESSION, here is Senator Byrd on the Bush administration's "foolish consistency."
SUPERSIZE ME. Here are some interesting factoids gleaned from Dean Baker's book The United States Since 1980: average daily calorie consumption in the US rose by 22 percent between 1980 and 2002, with average daily fat consumption rising by 14 percent in the same period. In 2002, only 17.4 percent of people with college degrees were classified as obese, compared with 29.7 percent without.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED