The Brilliance of Laozi / Lao Tzu
There are so many amazing voices from the “other side”, 124 to be exact, who have come to me since ‘HI MOMMA, IT’S ME’ was published. They were all legends in their time and represented every imaginable field of endeavor. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and the founder of philosophical Taoism, was one.
All these iconic beings came to share reflections about their past lives, insights they’ve gained since their earthly existence, and some offered their perceptions about our world today. Lao Tzu was different. He didn’t offer a typical message and instead asked if I would include a handful of his most famous quotes so people could find one or two that resonated with them. He wanted people to learn from less.
In my new book, which should be out by the end of the year – titled: SOULS OF LEGENDS SPEAK – his entire message will be printed along with the handful of quotes I was led to share. However, in this blog, I selected just one that was meaningful to me to talk a bit about. I hope you’ll forgive the “all about me” portion of this blog, but this quote truly represents my life and I believe there may be a lesson or two within this blog that might help others - especially any younger readers.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
This amazing quote teaches about the power of surrender and the power of possibility both at the same time. Both are critical to living a life that gives allows us to experience all the gifts God provides. This quote also teaches that exercising control is not desired since being controlling only stagnates our own growth and makes for a frustrating, stressful and unhappy life. Trying to direct our will onto anything or anybody is impossible except in the case of the self-discipline we should try to apply to ourselves. Tragically some never learn that lesson and others learn it too late. So, instead of interjecting our unsolicited opinions into other people’s lives, much can come from being a good listener and keen observer of life playing out all around us.
To illustrate, it is as futile to try to change your spouse or partner as it is to fully control a 2-year-old running through your house. It’s simply too exhausting. Let’s face it - we can’t control what our employer does, what our friends do, or the current political environment and certainly not the lives of our adult children, so why stress ourselves out in the process? Instead, we could expose ourselves less to situations we don’t want to witness, apply for a job elsewhere, or offer massive doses of love and prayer to balance everything from our end.
Over-controlling our own lives can be tricky, too. Maybe you were someone who had a firm plan for your life – knew the school you’d attend, the kind of job you wanted, the type of individual you wanted to marry and the number of kids that made a perfect family? Well, you know what they say about that; we make plans and God laughs. Detailed planners eventually find out that being too focused and rigid about every step of the process on the path to their dream, only totally distracts them from enjoying the journey.
I had no plan and no goals in mind except for a distant vision. My way was much more trusting and simply more fun – even through the rough patches. Luckily, those bad periods eventually ended and then life continued with more and more adventure! In fact, I think my life comes very close to illustrating what Tao Tzu was trying to say.
The vision I had was really just a word that stuck in my mind from the age of 5. Not consciously, after a while, but I believe that word was always buried somewhere and became my North Star. I always knew I was special. I wasn’t sure what special meant, but as a very selfless kid, special had nothing to do with recognition or lots of money, instead it had to do with what I would do instead of what I would be. If special did refer to me, as an individual, then it meant different but certainly not better or elevated.
Well, some 70-years later it all came to pass. It took a while but the joy of life is not the destination, it’s the journey. My values contributed because along with no plan and no set process, I was totally open and every day I did that best I could with the task at hand. The rest was some innate trust or faith I possessed.
What I found is what we all find – the path from here to there is never a straight line but rather a series of zigs and zags that eventually lead us to where we’re supposed to be. I did possess two fortunate traits – I was curious and open to any challenge before me - the bigger the better! I somehow knew I’d be able to perform.
The zigs and zags in life are there to build character, strengthen our abilities and grow our maturity so when we finally did arrive at where we’re supposed to be, we would be ready. Looking back, even though some may have thought my life was actually very tough, I would not change one single thing!
Instead of trying to control my destiny, I have surrendered and woke up every day knowing that adventure, important lessons, surprises – both good and bad, but mainly good are waiting for me. I have never been disappointed since I don’t have expectations. I’ve ended up just where I wanted to be. It has been a very long journey, to be sure, but my life continues to be an amazing ride!
To quote Lao Tzu, again, I certainly had to let go of who I was because of all I eventually needed to experience to become who I now am. I was many things first: I was a very bad secretary for a brief time, worked in the functional end of the radio business (not the glamorous on-air stuff), wrote for a magazine – sort-of, mastered various facets of the advertising and public relations field, became an expert on the holistic healing process – through my own health challenges, experienced three marriages that weren’t perfect (I was lousy at picking men), lived the joy of motherhood and then lost my son to opioids, and travelled all over the country and even to Australia guiding major corporations with their image positioning. I have been a speaker, have written 3 books – so far, enjoy the bliss of being a grandmother and cherish my friends. I’ve met celebrities by the score, politicians galore, had a life in the social community, helped lead many nonprofits and was a successful entrepreneur myself. My goodness, who would have ever planned all that? I can’t imagine a better life.
I think the key is releasing fear. As Lao Tzu says – “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Transformation can never be planned since it’s a process. Fear limits possibility and causes people to pause too long or become stuck. Had I been fearful or second-guessed my path, I’d have never developed the amazing gifts I have now. I’m now able to connect across dimensions to free spirits who are stuck, bring messages from loved ones who have passed to a handful of friends, share wisdom from the ages that legendary souls want shared and help my son’s soul growth, just by being available. I didn’t plan for any of that, but I also didn’t allow myself to be restricted by other people’s rules and expectations.
I can’t share this line often enough because it is packed with wisdom:
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
When I read it – I’m filled with gratitude because somehow, I knew to do exactly what Lao Tzu teaches from the beginning. To live to one’s potential, we must release control and fear and not be afraid to fly. It’s never too late to spread your wings.