The art of living in this “predicament” is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past and the known on the other. It consists in being completely sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.
This is not a philosophical theory but an experiment. One has to make the experiment to understand that it brings into play altogether new powers of adaptation to life, of literally absorbing pain and insecurity. It is as hard to describe how this absorption works as to explain the beating of one’s heart or the formation of genes. The “open” mind does this as most of us breathe: without being able to explain it at all. The principle of the thing is clearly something like judo , the gentle ( ju ) way ( do ) of mastering an opposing force by giving in to it.
The natural world gives us many examples of the great effectiveness of this way. The Chinese philosophy of which judo itself is an expression— Taoism— drew attention to the power of water to overcome all obstacles by its gentleness and pliability. It showed how the supple willow survives the tough pine in a snowstorm, for whereas the unyielding branches of the pine accumulate snow until they crack, the springy boughs of the willow bend under its weight, drop the snow, and jump back again.
-Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Chapter VI, The Marvelous Moment