There is a lot to be said in favor of fences.
Fences are put around things one is afraid of losing or damaging. They are a way of protecting things, of containing them so they don’t hurt themselves or be hurt. Fences are a sure way of letting a precious thing know how well it is appreciated. Fences establish structure and order. They let you be free- within their clearly demarcated limits. They spell an oxymoronic bound freedom that makes you wonder whether they are an anchor or a fretter.
Unfortunately, in an effort to protect precious things, you cloister them. You don’t let them experiment, you don’t let them explore their possibilities. By denying them a chance to make mistakes, to take risks and to get hurt, you deny them a chance to grow.
That’s what happens when you try to fence in your soul.
When you fence your soul in, you also clamp down a ceiling on it’s dreams. When you curb the dreams of a soul, you fretter the lives those dream were supposed to touch. In that way, you bind the universe and forbid it from seeing the splendor you had the potential to create by the flight of your un-fettered soul.
You strait-jacket yourself with your dos and don’ts. You set up rules and restrictions on the basis of your beliefs. You draw up a tight little enclosure and fence it up. Actually, little or large doesn’t really matter. The operative word here is TIGHT. It pleases you, doesn’t it, that word..? Gives you a neatly fabulous feeling of being in control. Sometimes, you even loop a chain round your leg, tie the other end to a stake and knock it deep under the ground so that it can never move. Being in control is necessary; that’s the only way you get to play GOD.
When you begin your life, God spreads open a vibrantly alive universe to inspire you. He gives you all the time in the world and tells you to use the world as a resource. The universe is His personal gift to you in which nothing is forbidden to you. All He wants is to see you create magnificence and splendor in your life. He asks you to fashion a pair of wings for yourself with no limits as to size or form. He is waiting eagerly to see you fly, He says.
He smiles, pleased to see you excited. You can’t wait to begin. When God tells you how sure He is of you and how much He trusts you, you too begin to believe in yourself. You are sure your wings will be the swiftest and the most beautiful wings the world has ever seen. You know you will create a masterpiece. God leaves you alone, loath to be in your face, giving you your space. He knows masterpieces can only be a result of lonely labor.
At last you are alone with the whole world spread at your feet. There is nothing you may not ask of it, there is nothing you may not pick up for your use. Your euphoria creates bold, daring images in your eyes. You being to visualize and lose yourself in a trance of joyous creativity. Your heart is full of an anticipated satisfaction, giving you your first experience of bliss.
Once the vision is clear, you are ready to begin. You go through the list of materials you have drawn up. When you begin your voyage to collect that material, you experience your first moment of apprehension. Then you remember the only constraint God gave you.
He told you that life didn’t have an UNDO button.
Cold panic..! What if you goof up? All the material you collect for fashioning your wings, will you have to carry their burden on you shoulders forever? What will you do if the wings you build turn out to be grotesque little monstrosities? Will you have to wear that self-created horror all your life? Is you life to be sentenced forever to the quagmire of your mistakes?
“Well, that’s not really how I’d put it”, He says with maddening placidity.
You fear doesn’t permit you to ask for a clarification or leave room for an explanation. You jump to a conclusion, throw up your hands in the air and stalk off with an injured air. In a trice, your paradigm shifts from: Let me design beautiful pair of wings for myself to: I had better not make a mess.
You don’t know it, but you just committed Harakari with a blunt knife.
The fence building begins. You want to play safe and to deal only with the known and surefire. You find a vantage point in your little enclosure and strain your neck to see what other people are doing. You try copying them… without the resources or skills they have.
Whenever you have a set-back or someone steps on your toes and hurts you, you up-stakes and shrink your territory some more. Each painful event gives birth to a new rule and another set of strict injunctions. You list of Dos and Dont’ts expands at an alarming rate. You never realize that the ever shrinking area is your potential for creating joy in your life. There might even come a day when your territory is shrunk so much that the space under your feet is all you have left.
From an unlimited universe, your resource is now the size of a handkerchief. You were so busy pulling up and putting in new fences that you never found time to hone your wing-building skills. You were so busy getting yourself untangled from the miles of barbed wire you created for yourself that you never looked at all the wonderful things the universe was offering you.
Under these conditions, in tiny snatches of time between ‘updating’ your fences, you attempt to make a pair of wings for yourself. What you turn out is a terribly ugly contraption that even your most generous friend would hesitate to call a pair of wings. You know it in your bones that it is futile to attempt flying wearing them. You set them aside and turn upon yourself in bitter anger.
You don’t try to dismantle the ugly thing. You don’t dig a hole in the ground and bury the horror. You don’t venture out of your fence and look for new materials… and begin your attempt afresh. You punish yourself for that half-hearted attempt which even desecrates the name of an attempt. You forget entirely that the process of creating the monster has taught you many things. Among all others, it has taught you what will NOT work. You don’t let yourself acknowledge the fact that armed with this new wisdom, your next attempt has a far greater chance of success.
No, you don’t do any of that.
You put that terrible thing you made up on a pedestal and spend the rest of your life dreaming futile dreams of the lands you could have traveled to and the sights you could have seen. You decide that your life is over and that the only thing you are good for now is to lie down under a tree and wait for death.
You know what is the cruelest thing on earth..?
When you have reached that state of mind, are chafing badly and are at war with yourself and the world; when you are wondering how you will give up the space under your feet next time something happens… at THAT moment… to see a soul soar past you in an exultant abandon of joy.
The thing that hits you with a sickening gasp of breathlessness is not envy. You don’t mind the other soaring. The feeling is of a simple child-like wonder. It amazes, excites and elates you to see it made real, the potential which at the dawn of your life, had been bestowed upon you too. The question ‘How come I didn’t do that…?’ comes much later.
You wonder why nobody ever demonstrated that potential to you so conclusively before. You want to ask someone: Why wasn’t I taught to do this too? You wonder what secret tutoring the soaring soul received. You feel peeved that you were so discriminated against… while you know all the time that there was nothing extra that the other received. The river of life never refused to give you as much water as you wanted, it was your own fault for going to her with a thimble… not a tanker.
If you have the courage, you will admit to yourself that you have witnessed the flight of a rare soul; one that didn’t take a peek at the what other souls were doing. It did not permit it’s own fears put a limit on its potential. It did not erect fences. It did not give up when its first attempt failed. It foraged ever wider for new materials and committed itself to learning new skills. It built and discarded and built yet again. It remained loyal and faithful to its God given potential. It never let God’s faith in its abilities get dimmed. It did not betray itself.
You will admit that the core paradigm of that soul was soaring, not avoiding a mess.
This was originally written on 12th Jan 2009. I was going through a repressed phase in my job… and I am kind of irrepressible. This was the only way I could rebel at that time… by telling ‘me’ what an idiot I was being. For the record, I resigned from that soul-sucking job on 31st Jan 2009. Not bad, methinks. 😀
I have touched it up and am re-posting it. Somehow, this serves as a perfect spring-board for what I wanted to write for the coming 2012 tomorrow. In a way, the next post will be a sequel to this one.
Thank you for your presence here. May the coming year be one of astounding growth and transformation for you. May 2012 be the year when your life will faithfully reflect the quality of your spirit. May the year bless your days with ever new ways of finding deep congruence in your inner and outer life. May your fears never become powerful enough to deviate you from your chosen path. My very best wishes to you.