To achieve a harmonious life, the Taoists propagated a curious recommendation: wu wei, or do by not doing. In our action-oriented society, not doing something is under-appreciated. Of course, not doing isn’t the same as doing nothing. Wu wei is the art of taking the right action at the right moment to allow what is to be, in all its glory. For the modern cook, however, it isn’t easy to prepare a satisfying meal from ingredients that are watery, unripe and tasteless because they’re shipped from afar or come from a can or the freezer.
Thankfully, there’s arugula, which allows us to experience the wu wei principle immediately. It’s as simple as cutting it and putting it into your mouth. If you’d like to glean more lessons from arugula, grow it yourself in a pot or in your garden. Once the plant has formed rosettes, snip off the top, leaving a height of one inch (three centimeters); it’ll grow back. Those spicy leaves are good with just about anything. Sprinkle them over your salad, soup, pasta or stir-fry dish. If you’ve missed the right moment to act, not to worry. The little flowers are also edible. And if you missed your opportunity to harvest the flowers, allow the plant to form seeds and try again. Where else would you find such a friendly teacher who gives you so many second chances?