Chuang Tzu on the usefulness of the useless

We often define our value by what we can do for others. On the one hand, this is because it can be quite difficult to disappoint others, on the other hand, in our meritocracy, we are taught this from an early age - however, we do not always have to be useful.

"The cinnamon tree is edible: so it is cut down!
The lacquer tree is useful: you mutilate it.
Every person knows how useful it is to be useful.
No one seems to know
How useful it is to be useless."

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu lists in this quote two types of trees that are exploited by man because of their nature. The cinnamon tree is cut down to make cinnamon, the lacquer tree is repeatedly scratched to use the resin to make lacquer.

It is important to keep in mind that not everyone who wants something from you wants evil from you, let alone wants to take advantage of us. However, one should not forget that the more useful we are for others, the less time we have for ourselves. After all, it is difficult to be in two places at the same time. After all, we can't do something for someone else and something else for ourselves at the same time.

It would also be good to question why you have to do anything at all all the time. We live in a very fast-paced world where taking breaks and resting is ridiculed. The best thing to do is to start playing soccer or handball alongside your primary school career, play one or more instruments, cherish many friendships with as many children as possible. Later, when you go to work, you should do something voluntary, be in a club or have several projects going on at the same time. This phenomenon that you constantly have to do something, have to be busy in some way, can be quite exhausting in the long run.

Once pinned, never forgotten!

The more talents or skills we have, the more likely it is that someone will need those skills and thus take up our already limited time on this beautiful planet. Of course, normally this time we spend is compensated in some form. However, we will never again have the opportunity to exchange this compensation for more time.

This logically leads to the question of what is of more value to us personally: Goods or one's own time. Everyone must answer this question for themselves; it is one of those questions that can neither be answered in general nor objectively.

If you are one of those people who consider their time more important than material goods, hopefully this quote can open your eyes a bit.

One can assume that Chuang Tzu with this statement did not mean that we should do nothing more and freeze in passivity. He probably wanted to point out that you do not have to do something all the time and that it can be useful to be useless. At least for ourselves, for us as an individual it can be very. Because Everybody knows how useful it is to be useful. No one seems to know how useful it is to be useless.

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