Wednesday, April 2, 2008

chipping away

i was thinking that learning things, gaining new ideas, new knowledge is a lot like chipping away at a huge stone. and that in that process of chipping, we sometimes knock off a huge piece we have to break down a little further. and we sometimes, in our haste, or not in our haste, chip away little shards...reactionary shards...shards that are pieces of a bigger piece but that came off incomplete...shards we break off out of stress, whatever. and before we can share those little sharp pieces that are our new thoughts, we have to knock them around with the other pieces we hold...round them out a little...let the grinding together, the meshing together smooth them out some. because if we share them too soon, someone might get hurt. or smashed if we set too big a piece on them.

there's an indigo girls song that has a line that goes

we're sculpted from youth
the chipping away makes me weary

and i've talked about that line before because as someone who was once a child (and still feels that way at times), it is exhausting to have people chip away at you. it can be rough and feel like they're trying to hurt you...make you feel scared or unsure of yourself. but then as a parent, i also find the chipping away weary. i want my children to be whole. i don't want to knock off parts of them. well, maybe the part that pees on the seat and doesn't clean up afterward...but see, even that feels overwhelming at times because who am i to decide these things? yes, i know, i am their mother. and i know i have a responsibility to guide them. but i had a hard time making the decision to spay my dogs, so while i don't think i'm stupid or unintelligent in taking responsibility for those i've chose to share life with, i do think it is wise to see the power i hold in some lives and to wield it carefully and consciously.

i am also thinking about stones rounding themselves out through rubbing together for two reasons. first, i listened to an interview on npr once with a songwriter named leonard something or other. i am sad his last name escapes me. he had such a deep and gravelly voice....and my dad has an incredibly deep and gravelly voice, so it especially impressed me that this man's voice was so much more deep and gravelly that i would not be able to listen to the whole interview, even though it was very interesting. his voice was altering some rhythm in my was painful. but he talked about time spent in a monastery. and the interviewer, probably terry gross, said that she imagined he had lots of time alone to think. and he said no, he did not have lots of time to think because monastic life is about letting go of your individuality and being part of a community...that you do almost nothing alone. and he used the analogy of stones rubbing against one another, polishing each other in that action.

my son has a rock tumbler...a really nice one. and he's taken one group of rocks through all seven stages of polishing. funny thing is, not all rocks can complete all seven stages. if there are cracks that hold onto the grit, they have to be taken out. (i mean, maybe there's some advanced rock tumbling that can be done for those rocks, but my son's amateur book said take them out...) so when this leonard with the deep and gravelly voice used that analogy, it was weird how much root it took in me because of my son's rock tumbling hobby and my chance to watch and learn from it, which was the second reason i was thinking about rocks polishing each other, even though i'm really just talking about knocking off the sharp edges in thoughts...i haven't even gotten to the polishing stages in my own mind.

all this to say, i am grateful for my spouse and my sister and the friends i have who have allowed me to hand them my shards, rolled them around with theirs a bit to give back to me a little smoother, or even handed the sharp ones right back to me to allow me to smooth myself before i tried it again later. i hope my hands are tough enough that i've been able to do the same.

it's all incredibly interesting to me and i'm sure this analogy between thoughts and something so elemental is inspired by my reading of the golden compass trilogy. his dark materials, i think it's all called. i am almost halfway through the last one, the amber spyglass, and fascinated by it all. a little apprehensive about how it's all going to pan out, but undeniably fascinated.

peace (or maybe tonight it should be piece)

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