Then comes the day when idealism, providence, and hope collide. The result is not the burst of rainbows you’d expect. The impact cracks open the ground under your feet. The dark place yawning wide smells wrong. The edges crumble. You seek purchase, you reach, but your happy trio is nowhere to be seen. Maybe they were reduced to ash. Maybe they were always just the curls of sandalwood smoke some ancient incubus left burning on the sill.
On that day, don’t peer in. Definitely don’t look down. Feel your way to the closest book and check only that it is not your own. Crack the spine. Open any door on any page. Then step through.
This, from the Stephen Mitchell interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, Passage 13:
Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.
What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.
What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?
See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.