When we ask others what they want from life, the more common answers are such things as excitement, wealth, happiness and success. Never have I heard someone answer that they hope for tranquility.
In modern times the idea of tranquility seems rather boring and unambitious. We want fancy possessions, challenging careers, exciting travels and a lifetime filled with grand events that keep us on a constant high. When boredom sets in or unfortunate times befall us, we feel betrayed as though we were promised a life filled with endless euphoria.
But we know through the Tao that everything has an opposite. Every high point in life must be paired with a sorrow. Every fancy purchase comes with a cost, in dollars, time and loss of freedom. Every exciting vacation only punctuates the mundane nature of our regular lives more harshly.
These highs accompanied by disappointing lows could be balanced by walking the middle path of Tao. Following the way means moderation in all things, and a contentment that comes with having just the right amount but no more.
This rather unattractive offer of a life of tranquility has benefits that are undervalued in our time. The person who spends only what she can afford and saves for a rainy day, for example, has the benefit of sleeping well at night with no money worries. She can weather the storm of a temporary, financial loss. That’s hardly sexy compared to the allure of purchasing a luxury vehicle that is well beyond one’s budget, but people of Tao see the value of tranquility and a moderate lifestyle.
Find the space that exists between extremes where you have the right amount but no more and you will find both tranquility and the Tao.