Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning to Fly

In a sky full of people only some want to fly…
Isn’t that crazy?
~Seal, Crazy

My friend Doug is a brilliant aerospace engineer.  For a while now he’s been working on a project to design the wings for an unmanned helicopter.  Last year, while on a white water rafting trip in the Pacific Northwest, our conversation turned to the science and art of flight as I asked him about the down-and-dirty process of wing design.

He explained that if the wings are too stiff, the plane will shake itself apart and break.  On the other hand, if too flexible, the wings will oscillate so much that the aircraft won’t fly.  “You have to create the right balance,” he said as he went on to explain some of the design issues unique to his project.  And I laughed at his unintentional analogy.

For like these aeronautical creations, we, too, face the risk of breaking when we approach life with such rigidity that we can’t withstand a harsh shaking from the winds of change, and yet if we are too flexible in our thinking and doing we may never take flight, instead just spinning around in the unrealized possibilities of living.

And so we are called to balance mind-body-spirit, generally, in work and play; calibrating the expression of masculine and feminine energies within us; aligning the wisdom of head and heart when discerning our best path forward; and balancing the need for togetherness with autonomy within the context of our most important relationships.  In many ways, every day, we are called to harmonize the issues of our Self.   

In this we strengthen our wings and learn to fly. 

Where does your life now call for more balance?

Friday, March 18, 2011

No Ordinary Art

We do not see things as they are.
We perceive them as we are.
~The Talmud

Jagger Rock (c) 2011.

There was an Italian farmer who lived in the Tuscan countryside. He had only his son to help him with the many chores attendant to farming. One day while out riding his horse, the son fell and broke his leg, leaving him bedridden and of no help to his father. “Oh no!” said the farmer, disappointed with his son’s carelessness. “This is bad! Who will help me milk the cows and tend the crops? This will surely bring ruin to our family.”

The next day, the general of the Italian military came by on horseback, looking for all able-bodied young men to take into battle. Because his leg was broken the General passed over the farmer’s son, leaving him to his bed rest. “Oh, yes!” said the farmer, “This is good . . . this is very good, indeed. Now my son will live.” And before long, the son’s leg had healed and he was back to work, helping tend the farm.

The parable of the Italian farmer is helpful in understanding that things are not always as they at first seem. Learning to remain open and fluid like water is no ordinary art.  But if we can temporarily suspend our judgment about what's going on around us, especially when in the midst of things, we may find that we've lost nothing by considering another possibility, yet what we've gained is great indeed.

Sit quietly and contemplate a time in your life where once you were convinced that a certain event was to your detriment, only later to discover its blessing.  Recall the moment that revealed the lesson.

What in your life now calls for a second look?

As you breathe, give thanks for your choice of perception.