Words of Lao zi - Chapter 24 (my original interpretation)
Those who try to stand with theirs heels up will not be able to stand for a long time. Those who walk with very big steps will not be able to walk long distance. Others will not approve those who try to self-justify everything. Others will not appreciate those who self-praise. People who brag about themselves do it because they actually haven’t achieved much. No matter where they go and what they do, they won’t last long. When I talk about these unnecessary human behaviors, I call it “needless food” or “excessive action.” Anyone would despise someone like this. Those who live under his/her good will would never behave in such manner.
Original words: 「跂者不立、跨者不行。自見者不明、自是者不彰。自伐者無功、自矜者不長。 其於道也、曰餘食贅行。物或惡之。故有道者不處。」
My thoughts: To sum it up, it means that if you try too hard things won’t last long. Look at the big picture. Know your own pace. This is the most efficient way to achieve your purpose. For example, you studied excessively to enter a high level high school oriented toward entering a high level university. You succeeded in entering the high school. But you have a nervous breakdown for the high standard environment and end up dropping out. If you hadn’t tried so hard and choose the second high level school, you might have enjoyed life more and end up entering the university you desired.
Did he/she choose this school to compare him/herself with other classmates? Did he/she try to meet up with his/her parents’ expectation? Was it really his/her wish to enter that school?
Another example. A woman marries a rich and handsome man without true love. After the marriage, she is constantly worried about whether he is cheating or not. The family of the husband gives her a hard time. Is this true happiness? How will she look like after thirty years? Did she think rich=happiness? Did she find that concept in the society looking at other people’s life?
These examples can be applied to many other situations in life. Life is not a 100m race. It’s a marathon. Even if you had won the first 100m, you still have the rest of the 30km run. If you retire early, you will not able to reach the goal. Many of us worry when people are running faster than you. You think you are left behind. But at the end, those who maintained his/her own pace would reach the goal.
Lao zi’s original words says,
1) If you try to stand out, no one will pay attention to you.
2) If you impose an idea to others, you will not be appreciated.
3) If you brag about yourself, you will not be praised and nothing would last long.
4) We don’t want to eat when we are full. Thus needless food and excessive action are unnecessary. Keep your own pace and follow your own path.
One more note about “keeping your own pace.” When you come across some hardships or things that you don’t like, don’t easily give up. If you give up easily, there is no growth and your life will not change.
Lao zi says, keep a low profile, don’t worry about what others are doing or thinking and stick to your own path. With your heels up or with very big steps, your posture is strained. It happens because you are too conscious about others. If you don’t compare yourself with others, you will be walking in a natural posture. Life is not about being better than others. It is a challenge to yourself in this short period of time. The traces you make will create a path. And that path would lead you to the best possible future. If you continue to walk your own path til the end, it becomes the most graceful path.
Lao zi was explaining about the type of person he despises the most. He called that kind of person “a thing”. He didn’t want to recognize such personality as a human being. It seems that even 2500years ago and the civilization before that the society was the same as today. Bragging, showing off, competition… people were corrupted even in those days. When you really try to see yourself in your daily life, you would not act in such poor behavior. Today’s lesson was about, seeing yourself in own your life. Don’t compare yourself with others.
Thank you for letting us live