Every man knows how useful it is to be useful.

No one seems to know

How useful it is to be useless.

So wrote Chuang Tzu(369 – 286 B.C.), Chinese poet and chief historical spokesman for Taoism.

I get it! Who would have thought that one of old age’s richest lessons, if properly entered into, would be learning uselessness, especially when facing terminal illness and the death of worn out bodies? When learning has dulled in acuity? When words wrestle each other like scamps in weed-infested lots? When progressive minds view the elderly as “useless eaters?”

In retrospect, this paradox is precisely where I find myself. It took months to get here. How I struggled to accept the unacceptable as taught in Chronic Pain Anonymous: increasing uselessness soared with increasing weakness and shortness of breath. Letting go of life-long functions stung: meal preparation, bathing, dressing, business matters, answering phones, dealing with the public, only to be taken over by my spirited caregivers, so patient with my slow learning.

Indeed, I’ve discovered richness within uselessness that quickens fresh roots in my psyche, that properly disposes me to receive the fullness of grace, moment by moment, and that bathes my senses in clarity. This is pure gift. Never could I have imagined it.  

Indeed, an unseen hand holds mine as I stride into the unknown, not without its setbacks.

And to have articulated my new self-understanding through the amplifier of Chuang Tzu’s ancient poem evidences an uncanny Wisdom in our depths! Gladness abounds.