(scroll below for links to other St Paul stories)
There’s a story older than mine about a group of creatures. Let’s say they’re small, cuddly and furry with big sad eyes and call them something cute like Wibbles. They live in a river, clinging to the bank. Water rushes by, trying to pull them in. They call to one another in fear: Hang on! You’ll drown!
One day, one Wibble just plain gets tired. He doesn’t have the strength to fight the current anymore. He lets go.
At first, the river drags him under and bangs him against some rocks. He learns to roll with it and soon he’s lifted on top of the waves. He floats freely down the river, laughing.
A little later, he bodysurfs by another whack of Wibbles on the bank. In awe, they call out: Messiah! Messiah! The bodysurfing Wibble looks around—Who, me? He tries to tell them that all they have to do is let go, but the current doesn’t stop for anyone, not even a Messiah.
A moment later, he’s gone.
It was that way with The Master. He was here, and then he was gone.
I was a more of Wibble on a raft. At times I could float freely. At others, I poled my way upriver in the dark and fog. But I still feel those moments when I flew through those rapids, laughing.
I understand those frightened Wibbles. For years I was stuck on the bank, clinging to rules and traditions. People like rules. If you follow the rules, you don’t have to think, and you can’t be held responsible for the consequences of your actions, or non-actions. When I used to follow and teach a lot of rules, life was simpler.
The Master said we only needed one. It’s not really a rule. It’s more of a principle. Applying a principle requires thinking and responsibility. Sometimes, even when you try to follow a principle correctly, the river current changes direction at the last second, or there’s a rock underneath the surface that you don’t see, and everything goes wrong.
If we’re alive for any kind of reason, it’s mostly to learn how to be better, freer Wibbles and to graduate to principles from rules. That’s tricky, because there are always sociopathic Wibbles out there clinging to the bank or floating around in rafts. We think we can spot them, but when we can’t it often leads to more rules.
It isn’t easy to navigate, but it’s not supposed to be.
If you do let go, watch for emotions. They’re currents that can drown you. Passion is necessary, but uncontrolled passion—even to do well—can cause harm. Anger will come; even The Master felt it. Let it flow through you and let go. Don’t damn it up inside.
Feel the power of the waves and learn to ride them. Even if you superglue yourself to the bank with all of your willpower, you will fail in your mission of inertia.
published 8 November 2011
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