My love affair began decades ago. Though born and raised in the flatlands of the Midwest I’d been drawn to the Rocky Mountains ever since I learned of their existence. When I was still a boy leaving my home and family behind I journeyed deep into forested peaks not knowing what I would find.
I discovered love. I walked on uncharted paths. I worshiped the high places. I adored the low valleys. When I came home from my travels I found adulation in the eyes of those to whom I told my stories. I inspired others by my tales of mad adventures.
To my horror they sought out the unknown even though I told them they were not ready for what they would find there. Most of them died in the wilderness failing to perceive their danger until too late. Some of them returned to curse me for not having warned them more strenuously. A very few of them looked at me and nodded.
Like the mountains I thought love was unbreakable. I thought love was something apart from me; I thought I fell into love, like it was there waiting for me. Because I did not understand the nature of the universe I failed to understand the nature of love.
The universe is relative and subjective. What do I mean when I say the universe is relative and subjective? I mean that all time and space are relative to the observer of that particular time and space. By failing to see the universe is relative and subjective I see the universe starting with objects, not with the perception of them.
I fail to fathom the mystery.
By offering the mystery I bring others back to what they have lost. Living in obscurity I am manifest. By taking care with small things I overcome calamity. My generous largeness cannot be kept in obscurity. My courtesy keeps shame at bay. By knowing the mystery I set order to confusion before it happens. In this way trouble is overcome before it starts.
By my gravity and reverence I become stronger every day; by indifference and want of restraint deterioration sets in. Since I never know when my death will find me I cannot afford to allow myself any irregularity even for one day lest I die in dishonor. Those without honor are familiar and insolent. By being so they may bring death upon themselves yet they give it no thought.
There is a perfect path, the righteous path, and the calculated path. Those who see the perfect path naturally and easily own it; the wise practice righteousness for the advantage which it brings; those who fear being found guilty of transgression practice it by constraint.
Humanity is like a heavy vessel and a long road. If I try to lift the vessel I cannot sustain its weight; should I try to travel the road I fail to accomplish the distance. There is nothing that has so many different degrees as humanity; should I nerve myself to it I find it a difficult task. If I measure humanity with the scale of righteousness I find it difficult to discover what I seek. When I look at people and compare them with one another I know who among them are more worthy.
By never giving up the way, by forgetting the winter of my age and taking no thought that the years ahead will be insufficient to the task, by urging myself on with earnestness from day to day, I only give up when I sink into death.
These days in speaking I reflect on what might be the end of my words and examine whether there may not be some error in my conduct. By being circumspect in all I say while keeping reverence in my heart I am unstained in my ways.
When I have doubts and perplexities I lead others astray. By not discharging my duties others in my purview groan beneath their load. By dealing reverently with infliction of punishment I spread my lessons wide. By taking care I set examples for others and so I am treated with respect. I do not consult with others before acting. In this fashion I never by little counsels fail at great enterprises.
If I act I defeat my own purpose. If I grasp I am lost already. By not acting I am never defeated. The small is easily scattered; by not grasping I never lose it. The brittle is easily shattered; by not holding on too tightly I never break it. I do not cling to ideas; in this way new ideas continually arise.
This is the way of the mystery.
A great tree wider than my embrace begins as a tiny seed. A skyscraper a quarter mile high begins with a pile of dirt. A journey of ten thousand miles begins by taking a single step outside my door.
Once while walking deep in the mountains I suffered a broken ankle by taking a fall on a slippery rock. Alone and in pain I struggled mightily expending my strength when I should have been conserving it. Just when I felt my will ebbing away like a spring drying up I saw the buzzards circling above where I lay waiting to feast on my rotting body. Without understanding it I spotted something red flickering through the trees. It was my truck. I had made it back to camp without realizing it.
People usually fail right when they stand on the edge of success. So now I take as much care at the end of my journey as at the beginning; in this way I never fail. I seek freedom from desire so I do not collect precious things.
By knowing the mystery peace is easily maintained. By allowing everything to find its own nature I practice non-action.