Chuang Tzu with his bamboo pole was fishing in the Pu river. The prince of Chu sent two vice-chancellors with a formal document: “We hereby appoint you prime minister.” Chuang Tzu held his bamboo pole still. Watching the Pu river he said, I am told there is a sacred tortoise offered and canonized three thousand years ago, venerated by the prince, wrapped in silk, in a precious shrine on an altar in the temple. What do you think? is it better to give up one’s life and leave a sacred shell as an object of cult in a cloud of incense for three thousand years, or to live as a plain turtle dragging its tail in the mud?
For the turtle, said the vice-chancellor, better to live and drag its tail in the mud!
Go home! said Chuang Tzu. Leave me here to drag my tail in the mud.
This story offers so much wealth. To “drag my tail in the mud”, the muck of life, the parts where it feels messy and uncertain… In psychotherapy we do this work, we keep oscillating between comfort and discomfort, between contracting and expanding, to enlarge our capacities to hold many parts of life, of our self– we keep “one tail in the mud” to stay connected to life.