Hunchback of Chu: “…No matter how huge heaven and earth, or how numerous the ten thousand things, I’m aware of nothing but cicada wings. Not wavering, not tipping, not letting any of the other ten thousand things take place of those cicada wings—how can I help but succeed?”
–Zhuang-zi, section 19, trans. Burton Watson
Taoism is something I don’t talk much about in this blog but in my high-school and college years it was a great interest of mine. Zhuang-zi (莊子) was the other great early Taoist writer besides Lao-zi and his writings have a number of important themes. For example, Zhuang-zi wrote that a person should devote oneself to a single trade or skill and completely master it. There are many stories in Zhuang-zi’s writings expressing this point.
I mention this because it’s something I reflect on from time to time. I have lots of hobbies and projects but I never seem to finish any of them. I like learning many different things but I am mediocre at all of them. So sometimes I think Zhuang-zi is right and that I should shut out everything else and devote myself to one thing and master it.
The truly great, successful people in life seem to find what naturally appeals to them and devote their lives to it. They might be terrible at other things, but they have a labor of love and when they do it, people agree “that guy/girl is really good.”
For me, it’s not that I want success. I like my life as it is now, but I would like to feel I have fully accomplished something. Have something I can be proud of, I guess.
Question is: is it worth devoting oneself to one thing, and if so what should I focus on? That’s something I haven’t solved yet.
Advice from readers is certainly appreciated.