The Wisdom of Subtraction

In the pursuit of Knowledge,every day something is acquired.   In the pursuit of wisdom, every day something is dropped.

-Lao Tzu

I think the wisest of the wise must know what to drop and how to drop it.  Maybe that is part of the meaning of grace.

It occurs to me that it takes great courage to drop something.   I see it in myself just trying to clean out the garage, a desk or a closet.  I may not have a memory of ever using, or even regarding, something I have saved for years.  But, get rid of it?  As soon as I do, I know I’m going to need it!  It takes a tiny bit of courage to let it go anyway.

A friend was recently going through the detritus of his mother’s apartment.  There was no room at her assisted living facility for all that she had accumulated, in a lifetime of family doings.  His description of the task of culling the bounty was: “destroying family history, in order to save it.”  That took much greater courage.

As nonsensical as it sounds, it takes considerable courage to drop that which has wounded us .  There is a strange value in wearing the badge of being truly wronged.  It takes good courage to let go of that social capital.

In each case, I believe it is the path of  grace and wisdom to let it go.


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