In a recent moment of panic after being selected for jury duty (more specifically, a grand jury requiring a total of 30 days of service), I turned to a classic tome a friend of mine once recommended in times of distress: the Tao Te Ching, the text fundamental to Taoism. Huffing and puffing in frustration, I opened to a random passage and read the first line of translated Chinese: "The flexible are preserved unbroken."
Typically, I dismiss any "spiritual" writing as mumbo jumbo, but the words struck a chord. Perhaps, I was simply desperate for some confirmation that serving on a grand jury is not, in fact, a death sentence, but I instantly found great solace in the ancient maxim.
Most of us yearn for control and predictability because it's so easy to feel helpless in such a mysterious, expanding universe. Helplessness lies at the root of those three well-known and -loved cousins: anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. But helplessness can also give us a reason to strive for greatness, to find meaning for our existence. Perhaps most importantly, when harnessed for good, helplessness makes true love all the more beautiful and important. If you can share the struggle with another person, things might turn out alright.
Hopefully I remember all of this the next time my girlfriend tells me it's too cold outside for shorts.