Chapter 37 – Grandpa
Tao never does anything
but nothing is left undone.
If our leaders
could get in touch with Tao,
the world would take care of itself.
Even if they wanted
to impose their own ideas,
they’d be drawn back to Tao’s
When our lives are that simple,
we want for nothing.
We can relax,
and the world becomes a better place.
Translation by Ron Hogan (2004)
One day I’ll be old gray grandpa
All the pretty girls will call me sir,”
Now, where they’re asking me how things are
Soon they’ll ask me how things were.
Well, I don’t mind being an old gray grandpa
If you’ll be my gray grandma,
But I suggest we move with our milk and cookies
To the shade of the old pawpaw
Jesse Winchester, “Nothing But a Breeze” (1977)
If I could have your attention. We will begin this Tao Te Ching Tuesday with an announcement.
Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. It has happened. Our daughter Suzanne became a mother a couple of weeks ago. That makes Cathy and me grandparents. How did that happen? As soon as it warms up and we can find a pawpaw tree (it may be on our next vacation since I have never seen one in Colorado), we will have to think about that.
Let us turn to the child who actually brought about the change in status: Ryder James Koskimaki, born January 12, 2014. When I ask Suzanne and her husband Jeff how they were able to get Ryder’s eyes on either side of his nose, right where they are supposed to be, they look at me strangely and say, “I don’t know; maybe pre-natal vitamins.” And when I ask Ryder how he managed to get exactly 10 fingers and exactly 10 toes, he looks at me less strangely and sort of half smiles the way a baby can if you move your finger along the edge of his mouth. He doesn’t answer, though.
Even from my position as a wise grandfather with a couple of college degrees, I don’t really know how he is going to develop language skills, learn to walk and run or any of the other things that humans usually end up doing. For that matter, I can’t tell you exactly how puppies and kittens or any other young creature comes into this world in a state of more or less perfection.
I don’t know why the pawpaw or any other tree can transform from a tiny seed under the ground to a large living organism that provides shade and recycles the world’s oxygen. I mean, getting down to the very basics, I can’t say for sure why the earth rotates, creating night and day and making possible the life we have come to expect.
Sure, there is the initial state of angular momentum and no friction to speak of; but what caused that? I believe we are going to have to give credit to the infinite Tao.
Although it did not take any particular action to bring about any of the results I have mentioned, all of those and many, many more occur without effort. I am able to write these words and you are able to read them because at this second there are perhaps 6 trillion different reactions occurring within each of our bodies.
If those reactions should suddenly cease in my cells – as someday they will – I will no longer exist in my present persona, though the trees and birds and bacteria and fungi will continue without my participation. And, without any effort on my part, as the poet Rumi has written:
When I die I will soar with angels,
and when I die to the angels
what I shall become
you cannot imagine.
All of this is because the Tao is, God is, the Universe is; and nothing is left undone. I think Ryder is going to like it here – and there – and everywhere beyond. I am going to enjoy being his grandfather.