Whether you are waiting to return a serve on the tennis court or listening for your name to be called for a job interview, your instinct is to stay loose. Be ready, be flexible, be poised to respond when the time is right. Staying loose is part of living in the present moment. Your readiness to move is part of your wisdom and gives you the power you need to live your best life. In the 76th verse of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu describes the flexibility that living things possess: “All things, including the grass and trees, are soft and pliable in life.” He contrasts that living pliability with the dry and brittle quality of death. Choosing to remain flexible is choosing life: “A tree that cannot bend will crack in the wind.”
You may have been taught that strength is measured by how “hard” you are in your thinking or how inflexible you are in your opinions and that weakness is associated with those who bend. But when confronted with any stressful situation, keep in mind that being stiff won’t get you very far, whereas being flexible will carry you through.
Change the way you think about strength. Aren’t the physically and mentally strong those who can bend and adapt to life—especially as we age? The more you think in rigid ways, refraining from considering other points of view, the more you’re liable to break. As Lao-tzu reminds us, “The hard and stiff will be broken,” while “the soft and supple will prevail.” Our minds and our bodies need flexibility to thrive. When we see ourselves as flexible and supple, we are able to bend in harmony with our Divine source. By listening, yielding, and being gentle, we all become disciples of life.