Friday, November 1, 2013

Tear Down Your Walls

The Image
The child brought blue clay from the creek
and the woman made two figures: a lady and a deer.

At that season deer came down from the mountain
and fed quietly in the redwood canyons.

The woman and the child regarded the figure of the lady,
the crude roundness, the grace, the coloring like shadow.
They were not sure where she came from,
except the child's fetching and the woman's hands
and the lead-blue clay of the creek

where the deer sometimes showed themselves at sundown.

Robert Hass

We all live in canyons; canyons of our own making. Life flows through us unceasingly, like a stream, sometimes in deep channels giving rise to calm and silence. At other times over, around, and through obstacles, with great noise and with everything around getting sprayed as a result.

And like the clay in Robert Hass' creek, the material of our lives form the world, the canyons, we live in; the canyons that box us in. We use the clay of our lives to build ourselves and others, to build ideas of who we are, of who we should be, of who others should be. We build the people and things of our lives and all the rules that everything is supposed to operate by.

Temporarily forgetting the creek, the life flow that allows us to be, we build canyon walls that box us in: i'm a teacher, a parent, a boss, a peon, an American, a European, an athlete, a gamer. I'm smart, stupid, extroverted, introverted, successful, unsuccessful, a hero, a victim. That person is a this, or a that. Another person is a that or a this. My job, my car, my house, my personal relationships, my this, that, or the other thing, is good, bad, mediocre, what i want, what i don't want, fulfilling, unfulfilling, whatever, you name it. The canyon walls can be very, very high forcing us to live in the shadows — unnoticed to all but a few.

Most of the time, for most people, we never bother to notice that we are the one in charge of our lives, the architect who designs every aspect, every single detail, the manager who supervises the actual construction, and the worker who actually puts it all together. Most of the time, for most people, we live blindly.

But one day, if you are lucky, the child in you, the curious side, the less judgmental side, the side willing to try and accept almost anything, wakes up and helps you to see yourself as you are in the process of creating something new in your life. Helps you to see that the creation process takes place in your very own hands.

Even though you bring your adult biases, judgements, beliefs, ideologies, and all those other bits and pieces of the canyon walls to the table with you, with effort you can see the process through the eyes of the child. And when you do, you see that it is not at all certain where this new construct has come from. Yes, the child's inquisitiveness led you to pick up the clay in the first place, and yes, you can see that the result came from your hands, but where did the specific characteristics of your construct come from? Where was it decided that this new thing in your life would be round and graceful, or square and nasty, or agreeable and supportive, a friend, an enemy, enjoyable or painful, liked or disliked, or some combination of all the above. Why, you must wonder, do you create your life as you do.

Can you stop what you are doing for a short while and see this subconscious process of construction? Can you see the walls you have allowed yourself to blindly build? But even more important, can you see how detrimental this blind construction project has been to your life?

Without these canyon walls, infinity awaits. Peace and love await. Look at the person closest to you and try and see that the wall between you is immense. Or, to be a little more accurate, see that the wall doesn't separate you and that other person, it separates you from yourself. Can you see the harmony and unity that exists beyond your canyon walls?

The next time you are sitting quietly and you notice that child in you, don't build anything that will add to your canyon walls, ask it to bring you some of the mud from the already existing walls, throw it into your creek, and let it dissolve into the flow of your life. Begin the process of tearing your walls down instead of adding to them.

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