Tao Flashes

If contemporary women breezed through their middle-age years, there’d be no need for books like Tao Flashes. But they don’t—we don’t. This knowledge prompted local author Lisa G. Froman to publish this gift-worthy collection of reflections.

In a brief introduction Froman explains that in her 40s she underwent a “journey of the dark night” brought on by “divorce, job loss, empty nest.” She found assistance in arriving at new self-understanding and peace from the Tao Te Ching (pronounced “dow de jing”). In meditating on the mysterious 81 sections of this Chinese classic, she composed 81 reflections of her own, loosely related to the inspiring text Lao Tzu composed some 2,600 years ago.

Tao Flashes is not so much an interpretation of the ancient text as an intuition-guided response. Its “flashes of midlife wisdom” vary in length and clarity, but in sum reflect the author’s generous spirit. Froman binds her viewpoint to that of her readers, writing most often in the third person, suggesting ways “we” women can flourish anew when our hair thins, our children disperse, our mortality looms. She offers not dogma but insights. Gently she insists that we each engage in introspection, seek our true and authentic selves, shed what holds us down or back.

Despite its Taoist roots, the language of Tao Flashes evokes New Age texts promoting spiritual awareness. In the Tao Te Ching, No. 46, one reads, “The sufficiency of sufficiency is lasting sufficiency” (trans. Richard Wilhelm). In contrast, Froman’s style is discursive, approachable. Her reflection No. 46 begins, “We spend our lives in the pursuit of more,” and later asks, “What if we learned that joy, not stuff, was the biggest blessing of all?” Frequent “what if” questions invite “us” to imagine taking small steps toward living, as her subtitle has it, with integrity, harmony and grace.

A question to explore in journal writing follows each reflection, and an affirmation concludes each section. Taken altogether, the affirmations reveal Froman’s zeal in extending the grace she discovered midlife. But do as she advises and ponder just one a day. Reorienting the spirit requires patience for the long haul.