Somewhere, in the dark, there is a note that never stops reverberating. Its vibrations spit out universes, create and end lives, balance light and shadow.
At the core of taoism is a sense of duty beyond duty. The lines in the track - simple guides for those wooden-splintered cartwheels we run off - are an inevitability, rather than a philosophy. An acceptance of what to do instead of something to aim for. Something lower, rather than higher. All actions, selfish and altruistic, spin out from this inevitability.
The taoist has a duty-that-is-not-a-duty to sustain one's self - the collective being that encompasses mind, body, and anything else that we've missed through our murky view of ourselves. We cannot delegate this responsibility to others, although others may help. To this end, the taoist meditates in order to get a clearer view, and practices to keep all systems in check. Physical health, mental health, financial health, social health. Really these are just labels for parts of the whole.
Even health health. Doing too much is worse than doing too little. Know what is just enough. Sustenance is always on a knife-edge.
The more the taoist considers the self, the harder it becomes to draw a boundary between self and non-self. The process of reflection makes the relationship clearer between the mirror and the image - each exists, not independently of each other, but interdependently. Different parts of the same system. The same is true of who we think we are, and the world that we live in. The more we look, the harder it is to draw a distinction between our own energy and that around us.
The duty-that-is-not-a-duty to sustain the self becomes indistinguishable from the inevitability of sustaining 'others'. It becomes impossible to look after our own self without also looking after other selves - the energy of individuals, of processes, plants, winds and weather, tides, time and space.
Eventually, inevitably, these duty-non-duties becomes something that we do not have to think about. The cartwheels follow the ruts. The vibrations spread of their own accord.
The narrative we wrap ourselves in has changed over the last three decades.
Previously, we were economic beings - our sustenance was currency, and its abstract, persistent nature summed up our own insecurities - a measurable defence against frailty, change, self value, and death. Money was software - made by humans, free from nature, and generic enough to do anything.
In thirty years, economic sustenance has given way to social sustenance. It is no longer seen as enough to simply hoard digits. The new story of our souls is one of social acceptance, to be included in a crowd in a manner that rewards a celebrity mindset. It is better to be loved by strangers than to take their money.
Both of these views are lies. Or rather, neither is complete, and the incompleteness drives a wedge into the duty-non-duty. The taoist takes them for what they are - the current rules of the game, a way to make certain things happen, a shared dream. Be liked or don't be liked. Be rich or don't be rich. No matter.
So then, given disruption is a form of connection in itself, how do we beat a path from the wedges back to the ruts that they crack apart?