Bringing Giants to their Knees


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There are two kinds of growth. Either we grow so slowly we are like mountains gaining a centimeter a year, or we grow as fast as kudzu covering an entire valley in one summer. No matter which path we take, however, growth happens. It cannot be stopped. Like the roots of a tree breaking through city concrete, the burgeoning of what the earth deems as good is unstoppable. Diversity, intricacy, the flourishing of all of life.  There are two ways to grow, quickly and incrementally. And we, as a country, have decided to grow at the most rapid gait.

When growth looks like death it is then that we know— we have chosen the most accelerated of paces. Death, darkness, the shadow are all precursors to the most transformative swing of change. They show us what needs to be stripped away, what has reached its expiration date.

As a populace we have elected a man who is a helpful emblem of everything that is not working, everything that must be dropped from this earth. The narcissism of a culture that cannot see beyond the welfare of the few, ego that hides deep wounds. Hierarchy, division, disregard for the unbelievable gift of simply being on this earth. On a subconscious level, it is always our brave choice to face the shadow that initiates us into a space of darkness in our lives. And as a country we have elected to do this heavy work, and embrace the rapid evolution that exists just on the other side.

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I have been steeping myself in much commentary about this upcoming inauguration, this dark death and large growth. And from so many big-hearted, strong-hearted, bright-hearted authors I am hearing the same word— resist.

Resistance, of course, has its place. It is powerful to put up boundaries, to say no, to decide to actively block an energy that has hurt you or others you love. It is an important place to start, to go from passivity to resistance. And yet… hearing this word something inside of me shrinks. And when I explore this feeling of inner smallness, I always come back to the same truth– that resistance, at its heart, restricts. In resistance, our energy is defined by what it is we oppose, instead of what we promote; what we negate rather than what we affirm. It narrows the range of energy that we operate within, and it is often as effective as trying to beat back Kudzu in mid-summer. Resistance is an initiating tool, one that can help us begin to redirect our energy flow, but we were never meant to dwell in this place. It simply isn’t potent enough. Instead, it is time to learn how to use the power of what is. Like harvesting Kudzu roots to make baskets and brew tea, or feeding our animals on its abundant acreage of leaves. What if, instead of resisting the encroachment of destruction, we started harnessing the power it brings?

The earth does not spend time resisting. Not because our planet does not acutely feel the damage of pollution, deforestation or development, but because it is far more powerful to just keep dreaming a bigger dream. The earth does not define herself by our waywardness, but by an energy of growth and goodness that expands far beyond our concepts of right and wrong. The earth is aligned with the Dao that runs through all things. And as compassionate, caring, and powerful earth-tenders, we can connect into this eternal spring of strength by finding our Wu Wei.

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A guiding principle in martial arts disciplines such as Tai Chi, Wu Wei is a state of being in which you are so fully immersed in the Dao, the natural way of things, that resistance drops away and all actions become effortless. In Wu Wei, you merge so completely with the innate river of energy, the creative soul that runs through all of life, that every movement is a manifestation of the greater movement, and so you are supported in every stance. To be in Wu Wei, you must first stop resisting the small currents, and start aligning yourself with the wider ocean of creation.

In martial arts we see Wu Wei in practice when a 100 lb woman is able to throw a 300 lb adversary off their feet. Instead of fending off the attack, the master of Wu Wei aligns herself with the energy of the moment and, with the flick of a finger, is able to redirect the incoming force, effectively undoing it with its own power. When we step into the flow of energy that is coming at us, instead of resisting it, we can bring even the greatest giant to his knees.

By connecting into the deeper sources of goodness, naturalness, and growth in this world we become unstoppable conduits for change. We bring ourselves into alignment with the wider dream of the earth, and her ability to fold all energies into the one truth– anything that is not a part of the flowering, is already part of the dying. And this cycle is what makes all growth possible.

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There is a lot of energy being inaugurated into our world at this moment. Use it. Instead of resisting it, harness that energy and actively begin to re-imagine. Start dreaming into another world, collect that energy to propel you into creation. Actualize a new reality by being your full self, by standing in your compassion. By making your art, and stirring your herbs, and by knowing that you are strong enough.

Because all this energy is arriving at your doorstep to feed you. And when you step into the Dao of growth, of regeneration and recovery, the force of the entire world will step right behind you.


  • These are the wisest and most beautiful words I’ve come across…for like Forever. Actually, I am blown away with everything I read here! Thank you…a True “voice in the wilderness” and I just Love your blog and what it means…”woolgathering and wildcrafting”

  • Thank you, so well said. Your phrase “anything that is not a part of the flowering, is already part of the dying. ” reminded me of some of the lyrics Bob Dylan wrote in It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Dying:
    “Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
    Suicide remarks are torn
    From the fool’s gold mouthpiece
    The hollow horn plays wasted words
    Proves to warn that he not busy being born
    Is busy dying.”

  • I love the idea of “dreaming into another world” and I am struck by your thoughts about resistance. I think of resisting as a feeling of protecting rather than restricting…but I do see your point that it is still a defensive strategy rather than an expansive one, and that aligning with the wild-flowering, abundant way of the earth would mean something much larger than merely opposing…dreaming as you say a bigger dream. I’m in!

  • I see the ugly mood of many nations in the world right now as an extinction burst – a last mad flare-up of an old bad habit before we get rid of it forever (or at least for the most part). Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but if you read up a little about extinction bursts it really seems to fit in a lot of ways.

  • Beautiful article. Sometimes not participating or feeding the riotous momentum (on either side of bipartisan arguments), instead acknowledging it is deeply sad rather than denying or avoiding it, and moving from that place of acceptance, is enough.

  • Amazingly beautiful and well articulated. I have been spending a lot of time since the election thinking about this–how shadows must been recognized and engaged with; how death and darkness bring about life and light. After many long years of struggle, I’ve recently felt a shift inside myself where I’m embracing the light and the dark. I don’t want or expect life to be a happily ever after rendition. I am embracing the yin-yang in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Although I have many fears about the next 4 years, I also am committed to not idly watching. I am committed to imagining and moving towards a world of inclusivity.

  • Wow, yes, beautifully written! I have been sitting with this too. During recent rainstorms here in nor. California, a beloved mature black oak tree in our yard fell over. I was noticing how my reaction was one of resistance: “No, not you my favorite tree!! This is wrong!” But my sense is that when the soil became sodden and unstable, the tree simply yielded and feel gracefully across our little seasonal creek. It did not shout or curse the heavens, but instead gave way to dreams of renewing the soil or creating habitat…..blurring the lines of birth and death.

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