Daily Tao / 255 – Indefinite


Spring was a time of swaggering declarations.
Reaching autumn, one finds few absolutes.
Life is mystery and ambiguity,
Toward winter, that now seems agreeable and comfortable.

When young, one makes heroic attempts. The world will surely bend to our will, we think, and we will surely make grand contributions. Social injustice will be righted. The big questions will be answered.

I once went to see a master writer. Long retired, white-haired and fragile, she nevertheless evinced a sharp and discerning mind. I was a novice writer. She had edited hundreds of great authors. I peppered her with all my anxieties and asked her all the questions that my teachers never answered. To most of my questions she would only answer, “Yes.” She knew all the answers, and she knew all the exceptions, and she knew the best thing that an older person could tell a younger person was “Yes.” Yes, the affirmative. Yes, as in keep exploring. Yes, as in there are no ultimate answers.

I used to push for an immediate resolution to daily problems. Now, I am not so anxious. Is science right about things, or is religion? Is there good and evil on a metaphysical level? Is there one god, or are there many gods, or no gods? A hundred answers exist for these questions. They are all known, but no one agrees. Today, I think it all very fine. Let there be a hundred answers with none of them entirely correct. The asking of the question is already enough.