The Tao of Eastwood

Chapter 13

The Way It Is

Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plum mad dog mean. Cause if you lose your head and you give up, you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.

Josey Wales | The Outlaw Josey Wales

There is no greater illusion than fear,
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself.
No greater misfortune than having an enemy.

Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe.

Tao Te Ching | from verse 46

With so many beautiful, meaningful ways to spend your limited time here on Earth, it’s tragic to spend that time living in fear.

Fear takes many forms and once you are paralyzed by this seemingly powerful state of mind, you give up. When you give up, you lose everything.

When you choose, instead, to accept the situation and plow through it, you may not always be “safe”, but you will no longer be defenseless.

This short speech, as Josey readies his team for an impending raid by the renegade Union Red Leg soldiers, is one of the all-time best from any Eastwood movie. “That’s just the way it is” is the very line where the philosophical light switch came on, so to speak, and the parallels’ between Taoism and Clint Eastwood became all too clear and recognizable.

Having lived through so many horrific situations and faced death at every turn, Josey Wales has accepted the way it is. He has no illusions of the way things are in the real world. And better still is the notion that as bloody and wicked as the world can be, Josey has not lost his humanity or his faith.

Easily one of Eastwood’s finest moments as an artist.