My Book for a Desert Island

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

–Lao-Tzu

Way back in 1972 I found myself in a spiritual and psychological desert of sorts, at odds with everyone and everything around me and uncertain as to what direction, if any, I should take. It was at that precise moment that, like Howard Carter entering Tutankhamun’s tomb, I stumbled onto the wisdom of the East. For a young woman who had grown up in a south-Louisiana, French-Catholic family, the discovery of such arcane philosophies as Taoism and Zen marked a major shift in my life, expanding my worldview as nothing else before or since. For me, the planet and its far-ranging cultural history unexpectedly became larger than I ever had imagined. Central to this turning point was the Tao Te Ching, a little book of sparely-written, oftentimes cryptic Chinese mysticism that reads like poetry.

Over the years I have dipped into it when I’ve needed to be reminded of its lessons; ignored it when tempted to flatter myself that I’ve outgrown it; and returned to its allure when the realization has flashed into my mind, that it is much grander than my laughable inability to comprehend its challenging secrets. I have argued with it, been tempted to rip it to shreds, and literally thrown it across the room in frustration. And yet…and yet…

There are books that I enjoy, some that have taught me a lot and a few I treasure, but Lao-Tzu’s ancient, humble lessons lie within the pages of the last book I’ll ever really need.

One Response to My Book for a Desert Island

  1. This resonated with me so Pamela!

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