Toastmaster Speech number 3 (CC3) – The TAO

My Toastmasters CC3 project (Get to the point) was inspired by the Tao Te Ching, a 6th century BC Chinese writing by Lao Tzu. The most quoted line of this writing is a “journey of a thousand miles starts with one step” found in chapter 64. I couldn’t fit it anywhere in the speech. One day I will.

Hear oh Toastmasters and guests the words of the Tao. 

When man is born, he is tender and weak.
At death, he is stiff and hard.
All things, are tender and supple while alive.
When dead, they are withered and dried.

Tender and the weak are companions of life.
– Lao-Tzu

I therefore passionately urge you to follow the way of the supple.

A while back at our neighbourhood there occurred a formidable whirlwind. It was so powerful that as the storm vigorously swirled the vegetation in its currents, most of the vegetation was flattened.  The maize storks first, and later two prime blue gum trees among others. But alas, conspicuously upright remained a bamboo bush.
Every cloud has a silver lining and in the storm I picked three life lessons.
First lesson
The maize broke down first because of their brittle and stiff nature that could not take the least beating.
From these, I saw that in the storms of life, there are those who willingly give up sooner rather than later. They offer no meaningful resistance to pressure but willingly succumb to their fate. They claim that a person’s destiny is predetermined and therefore give up everything!  Even what they hold dear.
Most live a short miserable life.

The second Lesson
I learnt this lesson from the mighty blue gum tree that appeared least bothered by the storm. As the other lesser trees quivered and wavered with every change in direction of the wind the tree stood majestically, only shedding a few withered leaves and twigs. But, in about 10 minutes, it was uprooted from the roots with a might roar and tossed about 10 metres.
From this I saw that there are those who will obstinately resist any pressure or storm even when clearly out numbered. They are strong and therefore in the storms of life they show no emotions. Unfortunately, inside them pressure is silently building up. When such pressure surpasses the withstanding threshold, they break down completely and without warning. They are the burly types who live by their strength such that, ‘sorry’ or ‘please’ are foreign words to them. Only, like the blue gum to die in their prime.

The third Lesson
I noticed that the bamboo canes would parry the wind by bending in the direction of the wind.  Once the wind subsided they would then swing round and whirl back to their erect position.
From these I saw that in the storms of life, there are those who appear to move with the storm. In reality, they are only giving way to the storm and then stealthily bounce back once the storm subsides. Their apparent weakness is their strength. You will find them giving up their positions in the queue or in the traffic to rogue drivers. They use more brain than brawn. In living to fight another day, they end up living a long fruitful life.
In conclusion
What sort of plant are you? The maize stork, giving up at the first sign of trouble?
Or the blue gum – resisting and demanding your space even if it is obvious the temporary inconvenience would overrun you if you do not budge?
Or the bamboo – Surreptitiously evading inconveniences and raising to conquer without appearing to strive and living to blow a hundred and one candles.
Remember, life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.
Toastmasters in Kenya

Leave a Reply