Whilst preparing the garden before cutting the grass – having already cleared away the “product” of the entire cast of the neighbourhood’s Aristocats – I happened upon a snail. This snail, who I have named Nials, was minding his own business munching on a leaf of some indeterminate plantage, which was about to be hacked back by the spinning blades of my Qualcast lawnmower. Nials was doomed, doomed he was; he was moments away from being l’esscargot (well, I thought it was funny).
Now before I’m raided by Greenpeace, I will assure you that I am of a love, light, live and let live persuasion. I was also wearing my gardening gloves, which automatically increases my outdoorsy critter-facing bravery by 100%. Suitably protected against any vicious snail attack, I gently lifted Nials (naturally causing him to retreat inside his shell), from his sunny afternoon leaf lunch, and relocated him to a lovely shaded area behind the shed – entirely safe from the Qualcast blades of doom. It’s at this moment a thought occurred to me; just the one, and I thought I should write it down to prove I had it. This all gets a bit philosophical from here on, but please bear with me, there is some sense in this if you tilt your head and squint…
We will assume Nials was happy with his lot in life; enjoying the sunshine, having escaped natural predators, the French, mechanical garden implements and my children’s rambunctious play, up until this point. There he was on the leaf doing his thing when, without even trying, he entered the path of some unseen peril. The nature of what Nials is – passive and slow moving – means that he would have been unable to rescue himself from peril, and was certain to perish. Then a larger, more knowing and sentient body of energy relocated him without notice, or his consent and understanding; but it was ultimately for his greater good, whether Nials knew and appreciated that fact, or not.
We can apply this highly laboured analogy to our own lives. Periodically, the lawnmower of life must be brought out to cut away what’s overgrown or, in respect of the weeds in our lives, are beginning to encroach and negatively impact on what is good and desired. Now we go about our lives, doing our thing, thinking we’re happy and all is well. However, periodically there will be unseen perils looming in our (immediate) future and, before we know it, we are ripped from the life we knew and thought we were happy in, and we land somewhere new to begin again. Initially we may be unhappy about this and resist or try and repel the change, perhaps feeling powerless and coerced. However, if we search for deeper understanding and trust that life will always unfold as it should, our true paths will emerge and enlighten us.
Nials was happy on his leaf, but he was unaware that within a matter of moments, his immediate reality, and the leaf he was enjoying, were no longer going to exist in their current form. The leaf was going to be destroyed so improvements could be made, and Nials would have been destroyed too, had a benevolent force not removed him from disaster. The overgrown grass and the weeds were duly cut back and removed, at which point Nials was thriving well enough to come out from the shade and enjoy a new leaf, in a greatly enhanced environment. Had I asked Nials if he minded me interrupting his meal on a lovely sunny day, he would probably have told me to bugger off and leave him alone (snails are notoriously narky when peckish, hence the gardening gloves), but I knew what was best for him in those circumstances; I knew the Qualcast blades of doom were coming, and he didn’t. This is essentially how parents protect their children – even the supposedly all-knowing teenagers!
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses
~ Henry Ford
As we go about our lives, thinking we’re happy, thinking that we always know what’s for our own greatest and highest good, we would actually be wise not to resist any change when it occurs, and allow life to unfold as it should – particularly when the lawnmower of life enters the fray, and a degree of carnage is experienced. It is from these out-of-comfort-zone experiences where our greatest growth, development and opportunities are forged. Look what iron has to go through to ultimately become steel.
That’s not to say we should become passive and slow-moving, not at all – I wrote the Push vs Flow article to clarify my thoughts on that question – but we shouldn’t resist or attempt to repel, but rather graciously accept the lessons and new opportunities that are made available to us. Every single experience has something to teach us, if only we listen. If we can detach ourselves from labelling something “good” or “bad”, and accept that it’s all good – one way or another, and sometimes you will have to tilt your head and squint to see it, or be patient and wait – but it is all good. Life is our journey of discovery, life forges us. Admittedly forges are not wondrous places to be, but like iron, we come out of the flames stronger than we ever were before, which is good. The discomforts are temporary. Everything is temporary and consider this truism: you have survived 100% of your worst days, you’re doing wonderfully well, so why quit and stop now? When you’re going through hell, you must keep going!
Meanwhile, back at Dennis-Towers…
Once I had finished cutting the grass, and Nials was suitably free to slime his way over to dinner somewhere, my daughter told me our next door neighbour but two (Jane) was trying to coax her escaped kitten from my next door neighbour’s (Theresa) garden. The kitten had climbed onto a stack of Theresa’s bricks, was positioned against our adjoining fence, was meowing fearfully, but wouldn’t move. Jane was standing on a step ladder, looking over the fences and trying to coax the kitten home, but it still wouldn’t move. Theresa wasn’t home, so Jane asked if I would tap the fence to maybe persuade the kitten to move away, but that didn’t work either. So, with Jane’s permission, I tipped a small quantity of water over the fence and the kitten ran home to Jane’s welcoming arms. The lesson we could take from this is…sometimes life has to deploy reasonable force to shift you from entrenched beliefs, behaviours, people or fears, that do not serve you well, and/or are not for your greatest or highest good.
Just to marmalise* this analogy one last time: the next time you’re i.e.: shooing a flying critter out of a window with a newspaper or relocating a spider with card and a glass, the critter concerned may be experiencing a few moments of unmitigated terror and confusion whilst you manhandle them to an enhanced environment for their greatest and highest good, but they will eventually be thankful you did. See your own life being guided in this way, when life becomes more challenging, because it will help you to recognise and accept life’s flow more readily.