A Personal Tao is a Taoist book exploring midlife and living in the modern world. It’s about how to apply Taoist ideals simply and modestly one day at a time. Living as a Taoist in western society isn’t easy. Modern society is almost the opposite of Taoism. The American dream is about consumerism. The modern consumer culture is unkind, judgmental, and all about living in excess. This book is also my story of finding a balance between my Taoist lifestyle and Western Society.
As a Taoist, I always stood out quietly, with kindness, living uniquely in my own story, refusing to be defined by cultural norms. Not every Taoist will agree with my path or my interpretation which is great. The Tao is undefined and unique for each person.
For the reader, it isn’t about the details of my path as much as to help give you clues on how to make your path, yours.
Becuase the site is A Personal Tao, you will find the chapters embedded across various site pages. You may find a book page in the poetry section and another as a blog page. At times a page will be hidden as a small subsection of a larger page. Just because I finished the book in 2005 didn’t mean I stopped writing a Personal Tao. The book was the seed that the site grew out of in reality. The site begins where the book left off and I have merged the two into one to represent that truth.
While the book may not be perfect, it served as a seed that allowed me to polish and refine the teachings on this site for 15 years. Think of a snowflake for a second. A snowflake grows over time as an amazing crystal. That same amazing snowflake requires an imperfect seed to grow from. Using our imperfections to become more is part of the Taoist path. We are a blizzard of snowflakes within the wind of Tao, each one of us reflecting a path of Tao.
This means each book page will now lead to additional topics beyond what I imagined in 2005. So now you can read 250 additional, in-depth, pages about midlife crisis, healing, relationship work, and other aspects of life that arise when waking up at midlife.
Reading A Personal Tao
The Personal Tao book isn’t a mass-market self-help book, rather it’s art, to enjoy in the same manner you would sit next to a river to just watch the water passing by. This book was my processing my midlife crisis into a transformative experience.
Imagine sitting down, beside an old maple tree. Close the eyes. Feel dappled sunlight dancing on skin, Leaves eclipse stray beams as shadows tango to the light across the body. Listen to leaves whisper joy as the wind tussles them into the air. Smile as branches complain in creaking strains as younger leaves bounce in play.
As a Biography
I share my life in this book. Moments spent under a maple tree, at the beach with my son, snapshots from my life and much more. This isn’t a western or normal Biography. I share more of my life than you will realize, yet I do so to help teach about life. My goal is to help you discover Tao directly within how you experience your stories in living. Tao is never defined by words; it’s embraced by how you live. The goal isn’t to reflect on the past nor accomplishments; instead, I’m sharing experiences to help teach about spirit.
In a larger sense, these teachings are to free a person. Midlife is a time of life where we wake up to come into our power. Personal freedom could be discovered sitting under a tree or even flying under the moon.
A truth about the nature of freedom: once you experience freedom, part of the very experience is to share and pass it along to others in your life.
Freedom is to be shared if it’s to be had at all.
Take time to share & express freedom with your actions.
Lessons Learned as an Author
Here are a few quick lessons I learned from being an author.
Writing for Your Audience
Authors often get caught up in their writing. It’s an easy trap to get caught in the details of the writing and forget the purpose.
When writing it must be considered how does the writing connect to the audience. This leads to a more critical question of (1): Who is the audience?
This is important, so it can be written in a way to be understood by the target audience.
What is equally of importance is (2) How the tale, story, subject connects to your path: how well does it help you to move forward with your own life?
Where most authors fail is they unconsciously merge (1) and (2). Most authors write for an audience of 1: themselves
This is where larger problems creep in since often the author adds in the hope of making money or changing another person’s life or a dozen other things, which end up getting ignored when the author forgets the audience viewpoint, needs or expectations.
This often sets writers up to experience a negative feedback loop of self-worth: when other’s don’t value their effort as much as they do.
Of course this can be applied to many things not just writing.
Remember all actions and writings must balance out personal needs to the needs of others. This is a fine balancing act. But if you remember both sides, often it makes the final result much better.
I see some authors and bloggers fall into this trap, reaching out to be helpful but due to poor response, internalizing it as a negative statement on their worth.
- To balance out the needs of your audience so you can take care of your own needs in the effort.
- Not to place extra expectations for your effort. If you act from your heart, then keep the expectations to be based on your heart and not tied to the whims of another heart. If you create for another person’s heart, then do so for that person’s heart and expectations! This last statement is deeper than might be guessed, as soon as we mention heart, it becomes personal and hard to untangle from the need to connect out more largely. This is because the heart is about connection.
For this reason, I never review other people’s poetry or work. It isn’t for me to be critical of their heart but rather to just accept their heart as they present it.
Publishing a Book
A Personal Tao is different enough that it will be hard to find a publisher. Publishers want a product which will sell. The mass-market never wants to risk something new; it desires to follow safe and pre-defined trends. I have only submitted the book to two publishers. One publisher has sent me this feedback after I asked their opinion:
I recall the book being very unique and rather nonlinear in its narrative construction. From an aesthetic perspective, it was beautiful. Filled with solid wisdom. From a for-profit publisher’s perspective, it would not fit into either the square nor the round hole of trade publishing, so you may have a hard time finding a traditional publisher to publish it in its current incarnation.
Heh! A Personal Tao is most assuredly not about trends or following the leader; it’s about following yourself. I gifted the book and worked away for free from day one on purpose. Also: I know in the end we don’t save the world. So I am not writing for some larger noble purpose. It might have started that way, years ago, with a desire to help make the world a better place. I wouldn’t mind helping to make the world nicer, but I already do that just by being kind and living as myself.
The world is the world and will turn and tumble about thru space without my assistance.
So in all seriousness, this is a mirror. I have always used this site and the book as a deep reflecting pool.
Until I die, I will polish, add, and tweak A Personal Tao simply because It helps me connect and see the world as I live it.
Personal Tao Book – Audio Version
The audiobook is available to our 5.00 Patrons.
Chapters Currently Recorded: