Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Letting Go





As hard as it is to 'pick up' skills and useful knowledge, letting go of things is even harder. We are not good at letting go of bitterness and resentment. Our minds have too much of a sense of being wronged. We hold things in mentally and emotionally and they eat away at the very framework of who we are. On the other 'hand' things we hold on to physically are much easier to let go of when necessary. A hot cooking utensil perhaps. A sharp object. A rock that isn't useful or even a stone that is. No doubt we can learn how to let go of the things in life, things that are weighing us down or that we a clinging to, by watching how our hands let go of things and even drop them. Our hands are good at it.

The heavy awkward stones are only in transition when we pick them up to build a wall with them. It gets way too tiring otherwise. Our hands are being used, not just to pick them up and move them, but to release the stones too. Nor is it our job to hold them in place in the wall forever or keep coming back to reposition them continuously. Good structure depends on maximizing the friction and centre of gravity of each stone and to make sure the stones are nestled securely into each other within the wall. We are not trying to just stack them in some temporary balancing act and hover round them with our hands wondering when it's going to fall over. If we are good at walling we are good at putting things where they need to be, and letting go.

The letting go part is not abstract or gradual. It is definite and precise. And more importantly it is with an understanding and a complete appreciation for function. Our minds might understand 'purpose', and resolve to be a better person, but it is our hands that demonstrate the higher level of commitment, which is function. We are making a wall not theorizing or imagining. If we think with our hands we 'think' with something different than purpose. Even if we make mistakes it is not on purpose, but it is part or how we function. If people criticize us for what we do and we sense a tendency to hang on to how hurt we feel, we can still function actively by finding the right place for that awkward seemingly useless 'stone' and put it in its place. It will intuitively be an integral part of that very thing we are building, a beautiful wall that is made up of many many similarly awkward stones that, once they are in position, merge into the wall, and then have individually, and completely, been forgotten. The hands are very good at forgetting. It is the whole hands-on hands-off process that can produce not just a wall, but a work of art.

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