“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
– Marcus Aurelius
I spent quite a lot of time today thinking about the post that I published yesterday. There is a part of me that wants to share what I wrote to the world, and another part that is not entirely sure it is comfortable with the world knowing that I wrote it. Last night the more conservative side of me won. I have to admit that my heart skipped quite a few beats when I saw the post I had just published at the top of my Facebook news feed. What a way to be reminded that I had linked this blog to all of my social media! I quickly removed the offending posts to give myself time to decide what I actually wanted to do. After talking with my awesome wife this morning I decided that I would continue to write about and share my thoughts over the next twenty-one days as I read through Awaken the Giant Within.
There is something almost magical for me about trying to shape words to accurately portray my thoughts. It reminds me of how Michelangelo described creating a sculpture.
“To sculpt means to take away, not to add, because the sculpture already exists inside of the marble. The only thing the sculptor has to do is liberate the figure imprisoned in the marble.”
Each time I find the correct word it is as if another chip of stone flies off the block, further revealing the existence of the form I am trying to bring into reality. While engaging in this literary sculpture I have often experienced something that is – at least for me – a unique phenomenon. By working to clearly convey my thoughts about “A” I learn more about “A.” That is to be expected – but there is almost always a moment when I discover something so unrelated to “A” as to only be a completely different idea. It is often these secondary ideas that are the most beneficial and real to me. The anticipation of finding more hidden treasures is almost the entire reason that I write.
My reading today highlighted the concept of reality. So often we see our situation in life as part of an unending reality that we exist in. True, the stage of life that we are currently experiencing within that reality will change – we move out of the house, enroll in college, get married, and start our own families – but this is all happening within what we view as our reality. Imagine that you are a train traveling across the United States. There are times when you have to work your hardest to climb the mountains and others where you are able to almost effortlessly glide along. As long as you are moving forward you are getting closer to achieving your goal; however you are restricted by the rails that you are on. These rails are what we view as our reality. This reality is bounded on one side by what causes us pain and on the other by what brings us pleasure. All of the decisions we make are either to avoid pain or to get pleasure. When we are caught up in “Niagara Syndrome” we see these rails running unbroken, into the distance when in fact there is an infinite set of rails, and all that is required to move to them is to redefine what brings pain and pleasure. Suddenly we are in a completely different reality. This concept is illustrated quite well by the quote I included at the beginning of this post. I have often attributed inordinate amounts of pain to something that I viewed as an inescapable truth of reality and this is a wonderful reminder to that when looked at objectively, there are few things as scary as their shadow makes them out to be.