November 23rd, 2010
Total Distance for today: approx. 28 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 405 miles
LOCATION: Colonial Heights, VA
STATUS: En route to Raleigh, NC
Picture a table. On top of that table, picture a handle. This handle is attached to some form of circular rotary mechanism, but it is enclosed by a case. Since, the mechanism is enclosed, you cannot be entirely certain as to how it functions. All you know is that grasping the handle and beginning to spin it around the table (much the way you would turn a circular steam valve) results in one of two things:
1. The entire table begins to spiral upward.
2. The entire table begins to spiral downward.
Here’s the peculiar part: At first, the slightest forces, up or down, can completely change the direction in which the table moves. A slight and mistaken upward pull on the handle while turning it causes the table to begin to raise. It continues to raise until some small, perhaps accidental, force sends it in the other direction: You breath a little heavy while rotating the handle, and the force of your breath hitting the table is enough to send it into a descent. Most interesting: The longer the table moves in one direction, the more speed and momentum it begins to gain. It happens so gradually that you hardly realize it at first, but soon, the table gains enough momentum that it would take a considerable force to change its direction. Instead of a breath or the slight pull of the hand, it would require the force of a sledge hammer to change the direction.
Eventually, the table gains so much momentum that it cannot be moved from its course.
What if the table represented your life? As it spins, you move either up or down, and the smallest interferences are able to change the direction of the spiral. A slow and unproductive morning, a bad drive into work, a social failure – these things can cause the spiral of your life to change in the negative direction. The small bad things, the annoyances, the failures – they can work together to frighten you into a shell of anger, bitterness, and fear. Before long, your secret isolation and pain become too much for you to overcome. Slowly, as if methodically, the painful things and the doubts tear at your spirit, bit by bit and piece by piece. Your awareness of the pain only makes you feel guilty for being so childish. After all, there are certainly others who have it much worse than you. Right? Even still, you grow weaker, more isolated, and less able to change the direction of the spiral.
Now imagine that you step back for a moment and observe the table and the spinning handle. You step back and observe yourself in the moment. You let the moment be what it will be. Presently, you notice something most peculiar: The table is still moving in its downward spiral, but it has slowed. One by one, you let the bad things be what they will be. You let the table be what it will be, until before long, it stops all together. Here, in this moment, all of your striving, all of the struggle, all of the bad things – they no longer seem to matter. In this moment, as you pull the air into your longs, as you feel the warm sun on your skin, and as the cool breeze blows past your face, you finally perceive it: In any moment, you can have everything you need. But usually, you’re spinning too fast to recognize it. As you open your eyes in this moment, you see the world, but it does not look the way you expected. The world is not full of either bad or good things. Here and now, there are only things, endless doors, and endless opportunities. In the calm and wisdom of the moment, you pull in the things that bring energy to your life, one by one. The friend who actually gets you and always pulls you back toward your dreams and all inputs that bring strength to your life – these you pull in and keep for you.
Grasping the handle once more, you begin to rotate it. This time, you keep all of the good things, the true things, and the strong things near to you. You believe they exist. As the bad things come, you move on steadily, as if they were strangers you will never need to see again. Though it is tempting to entertain their company, you refuse to and instead recognize the truth: You are both travelers passing through an interesting town, and you decide what the bad things will mean to you. Slowly, but steadily, the table begins to spiral upward. As time goes on, you pull in more of the strong things, and soon, your table moves so steadily upward that others begin to grasp on to it, because you are the only one strong enough to pull them up as you continue to climb.
There is no ailment or misfortune for which this cure does not work. If your table is spiraling down and out of control, step back, observe the moment, be the moment, pull the strong things in, set the bad things free, and grasp the handle again. When all is still and you are fully alive in the moment, it doesn’t take a massive force to send the table spiraling upward. It only takes a small nudge.