A while back, I found myself diving into an Amazon show called “Undone.” If you haven’t seen it yet, and you’re into animation and explorations of consciousness, it’s worth the binge. Among the myriad of thought-provoking moments in the series, one line has lodged itself in my thoughts: “Try Not to Try, Be Like the Sky.” It speaks to a universal struggle that we all face – the tension between action and surrender, between trying and letting go.
The Paradox of Effort
At first glance, “Try Not to Try” seems nonsensical. After all, isn’t the very essence of trying encapsulated in effort, in action, in doing? Yet, this line beckons us to understand a deeper truth. It’s not about inaction, but rather about a different kind of action – one that isn’t rooted in force or struggle but flows naturally, seamlessly, effortlessly.
It reminds us of the Taoist concept of “Wu Wei,” which can be translated as “non-action” or “acting without effort.” It’s the idea of aligning with the natural flow of life, of being in harmony with the universe, and of allowing things to unfold as they should. It’s a paradigm shift from “doing” to “being.”
The Sky as a Metaphor
When we contemplate the sky, we are met with an image of vastness and infinity, an expanse that stretches beyond what our eyes can see. It is ever-present, a silent witness to the world below. What’s most profound about the sky is its intrinsic nature to just ‘be’. There’s no striving in the sky’s existence, no ambition to be a ‘better’ sky or to meet some celestial performance metric. It doesn’t agonize over being too cloudy one day or too clear the next; it doesn’t lament the past or anxiously anticipate the future. Each morning, it doesn’t set goals to be more blue or hold fewer clouds. It simply exists in its most authentic state, moment by moment.
Consider the sunsets. The sky doesn’t plan or prepare for the breathtaking array of colors it displays. It doesn’t second-guess whether today’s palette was better than yesterday’s or how it might improve for tomorrow. It effortlessly embraces change, presenting a masterpiece of hues, patterns, and shades, all without a hint of deliberation or introspection.
Drawing parallels to our own lives, the sky offers a profound lesson about authenticity and being. Much like the sky, we don’t need to constantly strive or transform to fit into moulds, chase ideals, or meet societal benchmarks. Just as the sky doesn’t have to ‘try’ to be the sky, we don’t have to try to be ourselves. We often forget that there’s immense power in simply being, in embracing our most genuine self, without the layers of expectations, judgments, and aspirations.
Being our authentic self means recognizing our innate worth without the need for validation. It’s about shedding the weights of ‘should be’ and ‘could be’, and grounding ourselves in the beauty of our present being. When we let go of the incessant push to be more, to constantly better ourselves based on external standards, we find a freedom similar to the sky – vast, boundless, and beautifully authentic.
In the stillness of simply being, we find a resonance with the world around us, akin to how the sky harmonizes with the earth below. By embodying this lesson from the sky, we can navigate life not as a series of goals to be met or roles to be played, but as a dance of genuine existence, where every step is an expression of our truest self.
The Interplay of Control and Surrender
Modern society often places a premium on control. We are taught to plan, to strategize, to set goals, and to work tirelessly towards achieving them. While there’s undeniable value in determination and focus, there’s also a danger in becoming too rigid, in gripping too tightly to our expectations and desires.
“Try Not to Try” nudges us towards a balance. It doesn’t advocate for passive resignation but rather for a conscious surrender. It’s about recognizing that while we have agency and power, there’s also a vast universe at play, filled with forces beyond our comprehension. Sometimes, the best course of action is to let go, to trust the process, and to surrender to the natural unfolding of events.
There’s profound freedom in embracing this philosophy. When we stop trying to control every aspect of our lives, when we release our tight grip on expectations, we open ourselves up to the beauty of the present moment. We become more adaptable, more resilient, and more in tune with the rhythm of life.
“Be Like the Sky” suggests a state of expansive awareness. Just as the sky witnesses the world without becoming entangled in it, we too can learn to observe our thoughts, feelings, and experiences without getting lost in them. This sense of detachment doesn’t mean indifference; instead, it offers clarity, perspective, and peace. Imagine the passing clouds as symbolic of our transient emotions and thoughts. Like the sky, we can allow these thoughts and emotions to float peacefully by without attaching to them or holding onto them. There’s a profound lesson here: Be like the sky. Let feelings pass through you like weather. This sense of detachment doesn’t mean indifference; instead, it offers clarity, perspective, and peace.
As we navigate the complexities of our lives, may we find inspiration in these words. May we learn to flow with the currents of life, to dance with the uncertainties, and to find peace in the boundless expanse of the present moment. Just like the sky, may we learn to be – vast, open, and ever-present.
Here are some practices and questions to ponder, each designed to guide you closer to this resonating truth and help you navigate life with grace, authenticity, and a sense of boundless freedom:
- Meditation Practice: Dedicate 5-10 minutes each day to simply sit and observe your thoughts, much like the sky observes the clouds. What comes up for you during this time?
- Daily Reflection: Ask yourself at the end of each day, “Where did I force an outcome today? And where did I allow things to flow naturally?”
- Gratitude Journal: Before bed, list three things you’re grateful for that occurred naturally, without effort or striving on your part.
- Mindfulness Moments: Throughout your day, pause for a moment to feel the ground beneath your feet and the vastness of the sky above. This can serve as a grounding reminder of the balance between action and surrender.
- Intention Setting: Every morning, set an intention to embrace whatever comes your way, without judgment or resistance. How does this shape your day?
- Sky Gazing: Spend time watching the sky, observing its patterns and changes. Reflect on how it’s always changing yet always remains itself. How can you implement this adaptability and self-assuredness in your own life?
- Self-Check: Once a week, ask yourself, “Am I trying too hard to be someone I’m not or to control outcomes? How can I more authentically embrace my true self?”
- Detachment Exercise: When faced with strong emotions or challenging thoughts, visualize them as clouds passing through your mind, much like they pass through the sky. Allow them to come and go without attachment.
- Affirmation: Develop a daily mantra or affirmation, such as “I am enough as I am” or “Like the sky, I observe without judgment,” to remind yourself of the power of being and letting go.
- Seek Balance: Challenge yourself to find one area in your life where you’ve been exerting excessive control or effort. Consider how you might approach this area with more surrender and trust in the process.
Remember, these steps and questions aren’t about reaching a destination but are guides to help you navigate the journey of life with a sense of peace, authenticity, and harmony with the universe.