You’ll by now dear reader, I expect, have noticed my love of analogies. One of the lessons I’ve learned in my years is that people, and the relationships with them, are arduous and strenuous. We are deep and multifaceted. All of us. And layered with a lifetime of pains, hurts, and at least to us, injustices.
Remember the desert analogy I wrote of a few weeks back in this blog; how every experience and interaction throughout our lives each creates a grain of sand; tinted and colored by the flavor of that unique moment. And how all of those grains of sand join together to create a vast desert of our own special colors and hues. That is one of my favorite analogies and one that works spectacularly (in my opinion) on multiple levels.
– It teaches us that every single point in time matters; it creates something for us, does something to us.
– It teaches us that we are all the sum of our past experiences and those experiences color who we are.
– It teaches us that those with whom we interact react to the colors of our personal desert – perspective.
– It teaches us that there is a foundation hidden beneath those sprawling deserts; a foundation that while we can’t see it for the sea of sand, is who we are at the core – perception.
Now one might assume that the size of the desert is proportional to the length of the life and number of experiences; something like A=T*E where A=area, T=time, and E=experiences. But I have met many young souls with vast and sweeping deserts formed in just a few short years. Because there is an added factor in the equation which is M=magnitude. And M=I*S where I=intensity and S=severity. So we end up with A=(T*E)*M2. I know…..enough. Got it. My point is that each of our deserts are directly proportional to how long we’ve been here, how many things we’ve experienced, but inversely proportional to the level of emotional or spiritual impact.
But wait, there’s more! It’s not just what we end up with for a desert, but what we do with it. Some folks have deserts that are sparse, barren, and essentially made of a palette of flat and bland colors. Others shimmer with thousands of complimentary and contrasting hues and tints of all colors, blending into a majestic tapestry of shape and beauty.
Some have let the sand pile where it will, and have done little more. Others have been introspective and studied themselves and molded themselves so as to best present and display their desert. As Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living”. We need to understand who we are – what we are – to better understand the foundation upon which our deserts are formed. And this to shine the best possible light on our deserts and allow them to come to their brightest life.
And we can plant – garden – our deserts to make them welcoming with rich life and growth. Some people have no growth, some have growth but mostly weeds, others foster a plush oasis the beckons and calls all to bask in it. The experiences build our desert; we can accept that and move on, surely.
But we want to learn from those experiences; to grow from them. And that requires reflection, self-examination. Yuk – right? No one enjoys looking in a mirror, and looking into a spiritual mirror that reflects us for who we are is even more horrific. But like running 100’ more each day hurts while doing it yet allows us to go further than before, enduring the discomfort of looking within and learning fosters growth. And each time we do so, we germinate and nurture a plant in our desert; a testimony of growth and learning of all we’ve experienced for all to see. Monuments to us.
As Voltaire said: “We must all cultivate our garden”. What happens to us in life is largely not of our control. How we handle it is partially up to us and partially up to our unique combination of nature and nurture. What we learn from it, and how we process that lesson, is uniquely up to each one of us.