I had a conversation yesterday with a friend in which we discussed the idea of flying a small plane as a metaphor for life. I thought about it a bit more afterwards, and I'd like to share what came to me.
I had the thought that flying a glider might be the closest that a person could come to the Taoist idea of how to live your life.
You don't have any power except your initial height and speed, your weight, and the natural lift of your wings.
Now, you could easily sit back and do nothing except try not to crash into things. Certainly, there is lots of time to look around and admire the beauty of the land and the sky.
But to get the most out of your ride, you have to learn how to operate the vehicle you're riding in. Then you have to work on it daily, to make sure that it's in the best possible shape. You certainly won't fly far if you haven't maintained your plane.
More importantly, you need to learn how the world around you works. You need experience to know where the updrafts form and how to recognize them, how to predict where storms or wind sheer will form, when to return home to land.
To make the most of your flight, though, knowledge is only the beginning. You have to practice it enough that the knowledge becomes part of you. So that, at each moment during the flight, you can feel the flow of the world, where the air rises and where it falls, and you respond as one with it, body and mind.
It is always possible to fight against what you feel, against the flow of the world. You may even get "far enough", in this way. But once you move in harmony with the flow, it will be almost effortless, and you'll feel like you could go anywhere. So ...
Fly, baby, fly! :-)