It’s easy to keep hold of what hasn’t stirred,
easy to plan what hasn’t occurred.
It’s easy to shatter delicate things,
easy to scatter little things.
Do things before they happen.
Get them straight before they get mixed up.
The tree you can’t reach your arms around
grew from a tiny seedling.
The nine-story tower rises
from a heap of clay.
The ten-thousand-mile journey
begins beneath your foot.
Do, and do wrong;
hold on, and lose.
Not doing, the wise soul
doesn’t do it wrong,
and not holding on,
doesn’t lose it.
(In all their undertakings,
its just as they’re almost finished
that people go wrong.
mind the end as the beginning,
then it won’t go wrong.)
That’s why the wise
want not to want,
care nothing for hard-won treasures,
learn not to be learned,
turn back to what people overlooked.
They go along with things as they are,
but don’t presume to act.
As the title says, this is a reminder of all the little things. This poem and the previous poem highlight this fact by illustrating how important the small moments and little details are. When a small detail goes awry, it can lead to large mistakes. And so it’s not to stress over the little things, but to be aware of them. To be just as careful with little things as you are with what seems grand and important.
The last two lines of this poem cover an idea that I think about a lot, and probably it’s because it comes up often in the Tao Te Ching. To accept the world as it is. To move along with it.
That doesn’t mean you just allow terrible things to happen. Accepting that something is happening or is reality is not the same as embracing it. It also doesn’t mean you won’t seek a solution.
But you can only solve a problem once you understand and accept what it is. Nothing can happen if you deny the world in front of you.
We’re seeing a great deal of this in US politics right now. The Democrats are playing a game against someone who’s already thrown the game away and is carving a new gameboard into the wall.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
Be mindful of the little things. Take care with every action. With every word that passes your lips.
Take care, take care, take care.