“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” ~ Confucius
In a windstorm, the inflexible oak may split and be uprooted, while the reeds can bend low, allowing the wind to sweep through them. When the winds pass, the reeds can stand tall again and live on.
We aren’t vegetation, but flexibility is still essential to survival, happiness, and success. If someone opposes us or if something disrupts our progress, we can’t allow that to break us down and destroy our dreams. We can’t always force things, but that doesn’t mean we should give up, or that our desires and goals are meaningless.
The Tao Te Ching reads: “The hard and strong will fall, the soft and weak will overcome.” The translation from 5th century Chinese uses the words, ‘soft’ and ‘weak’ — insults in modern culture. But, in this case, they describe strengths!
Flexibility and creativity have allowed humans to flourish despite many hardships over the centuries. Those traits even translate into better health outcomes and longer lives. But, most importantly, using them can raise your spirits after the devastation of hitting a brick wall.
When I was a child, my extended family gathered one day to slaughter the hogs. I saw the adults gathering rocks to make a fire and tried to do the same. I quickly discovered that I couldn’t pick up rocks of those size. But, determined to help, I realized that they could roll and began pushing the rock down the path with my foot.
My uncle stopped me and told me that I wasn’t strong enough, but I told him, “I’m not strong enough, but my foot is!” My child’s mind was still flexible enough to think my way around a problem.
As we age, that mental flexibility often gets stomped out of us and we begin believing “I can’t,” instead of “There must be a way.” We need to rewrite our inner thoughts and change them from “I give up” to “I’ll think about it.” Being flexible assures us that our plans may need modifications, but our goals can remain intact.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Don’t lose hope. While you still draw breath, your story isn’t over.