Fragility and Strength

The demand that we be strong all the time leads to errors of thinking and to errors of goal-setting.

It is based on the idea that we can avoid damage or injury by being too tough to hurt.

It keeps us from exploring the possibilities inherent in delicacy.

We tell ourselves that we must be hard to survive, but if we see clearly, we see that much of our world is as fragile as a flower.

An onion flower is shown in partial bloom.

The constant urge to toughness leads to people who no longer know how to let others get near them. To people who choose violence as their first reaction. We strike out because we don’t know how to let go.

Even people who value delicacy are led astray by the idea of protecting things.

When we see fragile things, our first instinct is to protect them, to try to make them last. Like someone studying origami who can’t stand the thought of their paper cranes being damaged, they build strong boxes to keep their creations in.

But the truth of most of the fragile things we know is that they do not last.

Eggshells and flowers and sunsets and moonlight on water. These things are ephemeral. If we are wise, we try to appreciate them as they happen, to be there with them. Trying to preserve them changes their nature. Eggs must break to let the chick grow. Flowers must wither so that the fruit can mature. The world turns, so the sun will set. Grasping the water shatters the reflection.

If we realize deeply and with immediacy that we will be here and then be gone, that we can’t protect ourselves forever, perhaps we can learn to be at peace with our own ephemeral nature.

We are part of the world, not above it.

We are no more eternal than the dragonfly.

A dragonfly rests on a wooden floor.