February 19, 2013

Leaning Through the Wall. ~ David Firmage

I frequently find myself struggling with the chasm between how things are and how I want them to be.

Right now it’s appearing in relationships, in waiting for the perfect job, in wanting more security in finances.

That little gnome is sitting on my shoulder incessantly whispering self-doubts.

Sound familiar?

But this letter is about struggling with a relationship and the insanity of continually banging my head.

A few nights ago this poem came in my dreams. It’s a work in progress, but this is what crept in at 5:14 a.m.

This is a brick wall.

Though highly useful

in segmenting

what’s mine from yours,

it’s not a soft feather

nor a sandy beach.

Physics says

it’s mostly space.

And ever useful

as a slate

to write the future.

It’s effect is


I’ll save my head the pain.

I think it was a prologue to another early morning missive from two years ago.

 Straight lines

rarely show

in a natural land.

Bend your mind.

This morning I was taken back to teachings from my childhood—the Bible’s book of Matthew, chapters five through seven, known as the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus asks that we love our enemies, that we judge not, that we remove the sliver from our own eye and, I think most importantly, that when struck, we turn the other cheek.

Basically the sermon is the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

It finally dawned on me, through personal test, that these truths are not for the benefit of others per se, but as a way to experience the transformative power of compassion in action. Removing the brick walls as a form of maitri.

An unconditional love and friendship, starting from within, and opening to the world.

As I resist the nature of a situation, I am a mason, laying row after row of brick on which to hang mirrors for projection. If one’s intent is to push against, then walls are a must. But when I respond to that anxious space, that pain, by turning the other cheek, I remove myself altogether from the karmic dance.

It’s a way to lean in, as Pema Chodron would say. With the wall gone, there is nothing to push against, and space opens up for something new.

A new space for myself.

Today, I know that trying to live the Golden Rule is like yoga for my heart—bending and stretching me beyond comfort, beyond myself.

It takes my love to the edge, where we meet, and smile.

 David Firmage is a part-time ecologist, writer, poet, student, teacher and lover of wide-open vistas, inside and out. He currently lives in Utah where he struggles with the seeming slowing down of time while in Bikram. He can be reached through Facebook or you can follow his very occasional writings at his blog.

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Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing / Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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