August 24, 2011

Sanding Away The Rough Edges

I'm (not) an Island.

Hidden Potential

I met with a dear friend in Louisville earlier this week. It was a beautiful day with a seemingly endless blue sky. Crystal sunlight peeked through the trees and a whisper of a full-to-come sang in the breeze, thank goodness. We took a small hike through the trails of Cherokee Park until dusk. As we spoke she shared something a friend had mentioned to her of marriage: She described marriage as a time in which two individuals  "sand away" one an other's rough edges--allowing them to become softer human beings than before.  I thought this was an incredibly beautiful insight. It seems that it may be something we can carry out in our everyday lives and relationships.

There are so many days that I find myself frustrated by the sounds of loud engines or scooters that rip through the streets, at the time they feel physically frightening and are like an auditory offense. It is not that often that I go out because I prefer the quiet and solitude of home and often I find that the nature (or the in-nature) of our modern world simply ruffles my feathers. 

I find myself asking "Is it the modern world or is it me?".  I cannot help but think about how easy it is to point the finger outwards, yet, have not come up with many steps to move forward. I generally try to think of  the next best coping mechanism, grounding or protective exercise. I have asked sage women since the age of 16 or so, "how do you protect yourself from ill fitted energy of the world or people?!"  It seems everyone has a different technique that works well for them and that it's all about trial and error.  

Through the eyes of a moving train, Umea Sweden

Peeling Away the Layers

During our conversation my friend mentioned how she hoped this year to work on being able to be more community oriented and patient--finding ways to simply become more tolerant of the world around her. For the first time, I really began to hear and see how there could be some sense of personal evolution:" Yes, what if it's not a matter of simply coping with the prickly interior of the world? Maybe it's about focusing in on the exterior prickliness and impatience of my little bubble!?"

Hence...the sanding down of one's own little spikes and idiosyncrasies in order to become more patient, aware and present in our seemingly crazy, loud and irresponsible modern world. 

I realized that throughout the week this concept of "sanding away" ones prickles, surfaced up over and over again.

One of my favorite past times is to refinish furniture. There is nothing more gratifying than to allow a forgotten piece of furniture to transform into something shining again, something whose light will catch your eye. The layers of paint we peel away are like layers of history--the colors gray, green, gold and red unsurfaced.  Fanciful memories of the past decades and individuals who also hoped to bring new life and meaning to the furniture.  

Last week I began to unearth the golden textures and light of an old gray bookshelf that  I wake up to every morning. It always looks so tired. Its potential has been calling me for the past two years but it's only now that I have been ready to work on it. 

Target Practice... "Sin"-- Greek origin to miss the mark, to miss the point.  

Eckhartt Tolle writes in A New Earth  "According to the Christian teachings, the normal collective state of humanity is one of "original sin'. Sin  is a word that has been greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted. Literally translated from ancient Greek in which the New testament was written, to sin means to miss the mark, as an archer who misses the target, so to sin means to  miss the point of human existence. It means to live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering. Again, the term, stripped of its cultural baggage and misinterpretations, points to the dysfunction inherent to the human condition." 

I used to think there were two true sins in the world: 

The first great sin is to Fry a fish. The second even-greater sin is to paint wood. It seems a tragedy to cover up such beautiful and unique textures. 

After 10 years of living in Kentucky I finally realized that frying fish is not a sin and how tartar sauce is involved the entire notion is absolved of any possible accusations. Of course, all things in moderation. Born in raised in New York, I was raised on fresh veggies and exotic cuisines made by my mother. She was a chef born and raised in Kentucky by a very large and Catholic family...she simply attended too many fish fries.

As for my opinions on painting of wood, in my eyes it is a crime to cover up such light and beauty as that found in the many shades of golden metallic in wood as well as the imperfections.  The point is, like our own protective layers, paint can dim the true nature, beauty and light reflecting along each unique grain.

 As we grow things that happen in our lives help to form us into who we are.  Whether these things can be seen as "bad" or "good" is irrelevant. Either way they have happened and have influenced our outer shell and how we react, tolerate and treat the world around us.  So, why not take the time to sand down these old habits, protective layers and intolerance's to reveal the true light that lies beneath? Let us recognize that none of us are perfect yet we do have a choice to grow through understanding and compassion.

For Those of Us With Anxiety....

Hand Over the Sand Paper
Anxiety. I think it is highly important for people to take measures to protect themselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually and energetically. Some people are much more sensitive than others and taking the time to properly maintain and check in with yourself can be life changing. If you are someone who easily feels "drained" by the world and those in it, there are plenty of books, blogs and websites for highly sensitive or empathetic people in which you can find more information.  One first step that may help is to find a way to take a few days away from the computer, internet and cell phone. You may be amazed at how much anxiety and/or aggression dissipates!

Taking time to ground one's self at the beginning of the day is as is as equally important as it is to take the time to to cleanse oneself at the end of or throughout the day. I will make a list of links or write up a few exercises that people have shared with me over the years  sometimes hopefully soon. In the meanwhile, if you have any personal questions please don't hesitate to email me and I can try to point you in a direction for helpful materials or people. 

After we live with these grounding and cleansing techniques we may still find ourselves a little out of sorts. This seems to be the time to ask the universe to hand over our sanding paper. It may not be an easy task; to ask for things to irritate and irk you so that you can weather away old patterns. But, I am beginning to think that maybe if we do cultivate a sense of patience and love---as my friend Elena Lloyd-Sidle wrote after our walk "Putting mercy and goodness into practice...there is a corresponding goodness of spirit, a charity of spirit, that is asked of us in return, it seems...this charity of spirit is perhaps the next "stepping stone" in my life...Something to practice." 

Writing and photos by Nishaan Sandhu

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