From “The Faces at Braga” by David WhyteIf only we knew
as the carver knew, how the flaws
in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,
we would smile too
and not need faces immobilized
by fear and the weight of things undone.
When we fight with our failing
we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.
Life can be a grind.
It seems like the same things come up again and again. The same hurdles, the same issues, the same speed bumps. What does it mean? How we get out of this sticky tar-baby existence?
I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking outward, finding ways to isolate and insulate myself from life’s speed bumps. After all, who wants to live a life of inconvenience? That doesn’t quite work, though, because even changing locations, situations, and who’s nearby doesn’t seem to change the core issues. The same things keep popping up.
I’ve also spent a good bit of time looking inward, finding ways to improve myself so there are fewer hurdles. After all, don’t the sages say that change comes from within? That doesn’t quite work either, especially when I’ve held a story that I’m not quite ready, not quite good enough, or will never be perfect.
I’m starting to see a middle way. It’s a path of acceptance. Acceptance is different from resignation or giving up. It means seeing things as they are, without having self-judgment about whether things are good or bad.
Acceptance is about knowing that the imperfections or irregularities are what make us unique, and are where living happens.
One of the clues that let’s me know I’m drifting away from acceptance is when I see myself or others as being separate. The “us versus them” thinking is often a story of something other than things as they really are.
It’s been fruitful to see these rough patches as the openings towards further acceptance. It’s working for me to pause during the roughness and notice more deeply what’s true as well as what my story might be around the discomfort.
How can be that we’re perfect as we are, and also that we could use a little work? Could both be true at the same time?
Is it possible we have in our own hands the keys to our own locked cages?
I’ll leave you with my little poem – “Untethered”:Like the whittling of wood, life can grind us
‘Til the truth of our self finally finds us
If instead we resist
Then the knots will persist
And instead of them freeing, will bind us.