“So is there a that and a this? Or Is there not a that and a this? Where that and this cease to be opposites, you’ll find the hinge of Tao. Keep that hinge at the center of things, and your movements are inexhaustible. Then yes this is whole and inexhaustible, and no that is whole and inexhaustible.”

Chuang Tzu: The Inner Chapters, Translated by David Hinton

Did you feel it?

The tectonic shift in attitudes. The new consensus that’s emerged, everyone suddenly flowing in one direction about all the most urgent issues of the day. The coming together all across the political and social and racial and economic and cultural bands of the spectrum.

The rising of a single voice. A single intention. At last.

Surely you felt it.


Neither did I.

But you wouldn’t know it from the earnestness of some of the arguments I’ve entered.

I’ve churned through my points and marshaled my logic and evidence. I’ve parsed the supposed flaws and contradictions in my opponent’s position, looking for a place to pounce, as if the universe depended on it.

And the world’s situation has altered…not an ounce.

So when I woke this morning, talking to myself about how I could have should have made this point or that differently, I caught a glimpse of myself in my mental mirror, and suddenly I laughed.

Not at the seriousness of the situation we’re in, because that isn’t funny, not when I think for even a second about the consequences for people around the world. Not when I contemplate the ongoing suffering of millions—the threat to billions—because of the poor choices we humans have made. And that only speaks to the consequences for human beings. Add in the way other living things, and the earth itself, have been affected, and the picture is grim.

There’s nothing in this to laugh at.

Except me.

Because once again, in all this arguing, I place my ego at the center of all things. I have to be right, and demonstrate it to some other I don’t even know.

To save the world?

Or simply to validate my sense of myself?

I spin, a single being, on this small ball racing around a random sun hung in a vast dark sea of a universe.

And again and again and again, I forget that my purpose in this life is not to wrest power over the controls.

After a beautiful morning meditation yesterday, I promptly let myself be caught for the umpteenth time in the current of Solving Everything. And deep in that ego disease, I lost the threads of writing and moving my body and dwelling in the present that are the only paths to peace for me, and that help me respond with the compassionate words and actions that this world so deeply needs.

I fell asleep to my better self and woke to my ego.

Fortunately, I have this new day breaking, barely light as I write this. Fortunately, I have this new moment, where all it takes is a laugh to begin to set myself right.

Every moment offers the opportunity to share and act on what we believe about the world, but when I pursue some mode of control, when that takes over my intentions, time and time again, I lose myself. I grow tired. I drown.

This morning, I’m awake again. Let me stay that way. My ability to be me hinges on it.


“Words in a Word”
And now, today’s word play. The rules: Begin with a starter word containing 8 to 12 letters. Then you use any combination of the letters to make as many words as you can. You can only use each letter as many times in each new word as that letter appears in the starter word. Here’s an example:


deli                 cat                  tail                  date
dial                 cite                 tale                 late
deal               tea                  tile                  lee
detail             eat                  lead               eel
clad                lad                  tie                   dale
ideal              lit                     idle                 tad

If you’re so inclined, you might even come up with a poem or short bit of writing, using as many of your derivative words as you choose:

cat statue clad in lead
hides on the deli’s lee side
hidden from wind; a tad of
tea scent clings to the lad
sitting idle at the tile
counter, awaiting a date
who’s late

Today’s starter word: deliberate. Or come up with your own (remember, 8-12 letters). You can share your list and/or poem here or @mar_de_palabras on Twitter.


One thought on “Hinge

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