Yesterday Max decisively beat me at Go. Admittedly, at the outset, I gave him some help and intentionally made a few bad moves to help get him going. But by the time we were 20% through the game I was actually trying, and a soon-to-be 5-year old beat me. This has a few possible interpretations: (1) I'm really bad at Go, (2) Max is really smart, or (3) some combination of (1) and (2).
The best way to live
      is to be like water
For water benefits all things
      and goes against none of them
It provides for all people
      and even cleanses those places
      a man is loath to go

-- from the Tao Te Ching, V. 8

Following up on previous posts here and here, I continue to attempt to reconcile...
  • The concept of living like water, as expressed in the Tao Te Ching, and
  • My intuitive connection with the forms of the natural landscape
...with my personal aspirations. You see, in reading the Tao Te Ching, one could be led to think that goal-seeking is a less than optimal way to live. From V. 9:

Grabbing and stuffing--
      there is no end to it

Sharpen a blade too much
      and its edge will soon be lost
Fill a house with gold and jade
      and no one can protect it
Puff yourself with honor and pride
      and no one can save you from a fall

Complete the task at hand
Be selfless in your actions

However, as my brain has passively processed all of this over the past several months, I think I'm finally starting to unify these ideas. I am recognizing that perhaps they do not contain the inherent contradictions I once thought.

Water, the presence and lack thereof, whether liquid, as a flow or a body, or solid, as a glacier, has formed and continues to form the natural landscape in which we live. The cycle of water can be seen as an analogue for certain journeys in life, which can include aspirations.

I am one who seeks like water.

The older I get, the more I realize that things cannot be forced. All we can do is seek out that which fits our life and our context, and then enable it. Through this seeking, and through the un-contrived pursuit of opportunities that fit one's circumstances, each person can achieve a success that resonates with them. The difficult part is the search, and having the wisdom to recognize which aspirations should be pursued (and then enabled), and which should be ignored.

I believe this general concept applies to goals, relationships, and in fact everything in one's life. It is a lesson learned from water, from gravity. It is a cycle, and a journey from high to low. Success comes at the bottom.
  • Rain is chaos, the unknown, randomness.
  • The Watershed is a flow with resistance, it is seeking, finding one's way. It is the most difficult part of the cycle.
  • At the Stream, a way has finally been found. There will be challenges, but gravity is with you.
  • The Body of Water, at the low point, at the terminus of the stream, is a temporary end, a reward. Life's rewards can be found in low places. This resting place, being low, is also a type of death. Death leads to rebirth.
  • Through Rebirth, evaporation, we are led back to chaos, and the cycle begins again.
This is life--full of opportunities, full of people. But only a small portion of these fit each individual, each situation. The search, both the experience of seeking and the potential reward, is part of what gives life meaning.