Taoteching 32

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Xena took the apprentice Gabhopper on a seven-mile walk in the woods. They descended four thousand feet along a mountain stream that doubled and redoubled in size as other streams joined it. The stream plunged over a staircase of innumerable cataracts and divided into islands as it formed stretches of white rapids alternating with deep quiet pools.

"This place is beautiful, m'Lady," Gabhopper said after many minutes of contemplative silence. "I find myself deeply moved."

"Why do you find it so beautiful, dear disciple?" the Warrior Princess asked her.

"I think it is perhaps the simplicity of the water's purpose, always seeking the lowest place."

"What if you saw it raining on the ocean? Surely, as the simplest case, you would find that exceedingly beautiful."

"No, m'Lady, it would seem such a waste of fresh water. Maybe I'm thinking of the complexity of this landscape along the valley floor, of the cliffs and hillsides and gravel bars."

"Then what of that recent rockslide two miles back? Surely you found the jumbled, random complexity of the boulder field gorgeous beyond compare."

"No, I found it to be an ugly scar on the land. I'm sorry, I have failed you, m'Lady. I cannot tell you why this place is so beautiful."

"You have not failed me, dear disciple. Words have failed you."

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Strangers In Paradise