“Before a great vision can become reality, there may be difficulty. Before a person begins a great endeavor, they may encounter chaos. As a new plant breaks the ground with great difficulty, foreshadowing the huge tree, so must we sometimes push against difficulty in bringing forth dreams.”
When you enter my office, you’ll see a picture of the Chinese character for chaos, or difficulty, pronounced wei (way). It was left for me by the previous tenant, but seemes particularly a propos to me right now as I go through growing pains. It’s NOT exactly the one most of us have heard about by now, that within crisis there is opportunity. Those who know the Chinese language well point out that this crisis equals opportunity idea is an oversimplification or misconception that Westerners take to extremes. The character on my wall by itself means simply “chaos” or even “danger”. Put together with another character, ji, the two form a word that can mean “crisis”, and that other character, ji, is the one some say means “opportunity. However, that ji character by itself actually means something like “incipient moment; crucial point (when something begins or changes).”
Here, we are just talking about the single character wei, which is indeed chaos. I prefer to think of it in the way described above, of a small plant trying to push up out of the ground. Pushing up out of the ground is a strenuous and tumultuous affair. Anything could happen. In the right circumstances, yes, it could turn into a huge tree. But it could also get stepped on, eaten, or scorched. So it is also a delicate moment, when great care is needed. This character can be a particular reading of the I Ching, a Chinese method of divination. In the reading for this character, it mentions that it is important to act with reason, and ethically and honestly during such a time.
I can certainly identify, because taking on the whole clinic myself since the other practitioners have moved out has definitely felt like a strenuous and tumultuous affair. Much has gone well, but there have been daily struggles, technical difficulties, and just a lot to do. It also feels like the culmination of years of hard work, starting with when I began acupuncture school. So after years of “germination,” it feels like I am finally pushing through the ground toward my dream. It’s all felt alternately joyous and anxiety ridden.
This character reminds me that it is normal to feel some difficulty as I strive to grow toward my dream. Sometimes we feel like we are the only ones struggling, the only ones who feel like this, the only ones having this particular problem. The wisdom of those who came before us is that we all experience some difficulty of some sort or another, and someone else (probably millions of someones) is definitely feeling the same thing you are, somewhere. It helps to remind myself of this, and also to remind myself that this chaos of changing furniture, difficulties with voicemails and internet connections, cash flow, and the like, is part of the growing process toward a worthy end. The great dream of helping as many people as I can with Chinese Medicine, and of spreading the word about how it can help women in all phases of life, is blossoming.