Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day Seventy-Seven ... When Discipline Becomes Rigidity

I was speaking today with a good friend who reminds me so much of myself. We are both very disciplined, set a plan or a goal and do quite single mindedly pursue it. However, sometimes a plan needs to be adjusted, delayed,  and re-evaluated. Discipline keeps you on track. Rigidity goes beyond discipline to cause a stress that need not be there. Discipline is a grand thing. Rigidity reminds me of the story of the mighty oak and the reed. And that is what my conversation with my friend reminded me of today.

The Oak and the Reed
by Jean de La FontaineTranslation by Eli Siegel 
The oak one day says to the reed:
—You have a good right to blame the nature of things:
A wren for you is a heavy thing to bear.
The slightest wind which is likely
To wrinkle the face of the water
Compels you to bow your head—
While my brow, like Mount Caucasus,
Not satisfied with catching the rays of the sun,
Resists the effort of the tempest.
All for you is north wind, all seems to me soft breeze.
Still, if you had been born in the protection of the foliage
The surrounding of which I cover,
I would defend you from the storm.
But you come to be most often
On the wet edges of the kingdoms of the wind.
Nature seems to me quite unjust to you.
—Your compassion, answered the shrub,
Arises from a kind nature; but leave off this care.
The winds are less fearful to me than to you.
I bend and do not break. You have until now
Against their frightening blows
Stood up without bending your back;
But look out for what can be. —As the reed said these words,
From the edge of the horizon furiously comes to them
The most terrible of the progeny
Which the North has till then contained within it.
The tree holds up well; the reed bends.
The wind doubles its trying;
And does so well that it uproots
That, the head of which was neighbor to the sky,
And the feet of which touched the empire of the dead.

There are so many times that I set out to do something and in my single minded drive to be disciplined I realize I am causing myself and those around me far more discomfort than good. There are times when going with the flow does not equate to being lazy or undisciplined. It simply is acceptance of the fact that there is more than we see to life and like driving a car sometimes a road is closed or there is a pothole and you need to adjust course. It doesn't mean that you aren't going to arrive at your destination. There just may be another stop along the way that is needed and you didn't even know it.

That reminds me of another saying:
Men plan, fate laughs ...
Visualizing ice cubes,
Nicola Byrne

Don't miss the forest for the trees.
-Author Unknown

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