Let the tools do what they are made to do

sawMany years ago I was doing some construction work in Barbados with an elderly carpenter from Trinidad by the name of Sumai.

I was using a handsaw to cut some wood, but just could not get a straight cut, no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much muscle I put behind the saw. Sumai, who was a small man, took the saw out of my hand and, with what appeared to be no effort at all, cut the wood in a straight line faster than I could say “mahogany”.

He said that because I was a big fella, I probably figured I could use brute force to cut the wood. “Big mistake” he teased. “The saw is designed to do a particular job. Your role is simply to guide the saw along the line with a gentle rocking motion”. I tried it and was amazed. I realised that I had been fighting with the handsaw, preventing it from doing its job.

It was a valuable lesson and not just for woodwork, but all aspects of life. Instead of making use of situations and challenges, we often fight with ourselves and get in the way of our own progress. Sometimes we try so hard to stay on track that we cause a derailment.

Life provides many tools for building the pathways and bridges to all sorts of destinations; the challenge is in learning to use those tools as a craftsman would.

You have a right to become the person you were destined to become – even in a relationship.

bay and boatTo feel that someone is blocking your destiny is one of the worst of all feelings. There are enough obstacles in the world that prevent people from fulfilling themselves, without adding to them by demanding that a partner give up his or her plans for the sake of a relationship.  Such demands often backfire and weaken the emotional ties between the two partners.

Even if it seems threatening at first, helping a partner grow and find himself or herself makes a relationship stronger. In time the partners will seem less dependent and less possessive. They remain together because they want to be together. Although they have the freedom each day to stay or to leave, they choose to stay and grow together. It’s a choice they make every day, consciously or otherwise.

My wife once put it this way – The strongest relationship is the one between two people who see each other as midwives to the persons they wish to become.

Life is as Life is

Magnificent FrigatebirdBeen trying to put my feelings about the passing of my parents on this blog for a few weeks, but could not get it together. Wasn’t sure I should, but… here goes.

My Mum passed at end March 2008 after a long and painful battle with cancer. My Dad, who had Alzheimer’s for the past 8 years or so but was otherwise physically healthy, passed at the end of June 2010.

Mum’s death mashed me up for months. Got a flight while she was in the hospice, but just before leaving home in Trinidad to catch a plane to London, where my folks lived since 1958, I got the call from my brother that Mum passed.

I had been travelling to London to visit Dad regularly since Mum died. Was there in March / April of this year and had some real good time with him. Spoke to him on Father’s day and thanked him for all that he’s done for me. For providing me with a good example of what it means to be a gentleman, to respect every human being, to be independent, self-reliant, not to inconvenience people unnecessarily, to always look for ways to develop myself. For introducing me to spiritual pursuits and the fun that can be had from checking out what ancient and modern philosophers had to say about life. For encouraging me to pursue my creative/artistic dreams, especially in music, for respecting my choices and helping me to understand that everything has its consequences.

I’m working my way through Dad passing so soon after Mum. I’m getting there.
I’m 56 and after the funeral stuff was out of the way and the paperwork, sorting of clothes and stuff I returned to Trinidad and memories of my parents are with me for many hours a day. 90 percent real good stuff.

I really realise that I am still a child, or to be more precise my parents’ child. These were great folks, I was not always aware of it while growing up and even in my twenties I was not always ready to embrace just how special and wonderful my mum and dad were. Just how much they really, really loved me and my brother. Just how much they sacrificed, not only financially and stuff, but also how much they put their own views and opinions on pause and allowed us to make our own choices, to find out for ourselves and to find ourselves (of course that journey continues).

It’s at times overwhelming to think about how much a part of me they are and will always be. Scenes of my childhood play on my mind-screen with associated feelings re-stimulated, re-experienced, re-felt (if there was such a word I’d use it a lot right now).
A friend in a similar position recently discussed the aspect of relationships with our parents and of being adult orphans.

As we get older we start to parent our parents and for some of us it’s not long before our children begin to parent us. Yes it is indeed all part of life. We don’t choose how we arrive and don’t usually have a say in how we depart, but in between we do have choices and that’s where the wonders can happen.

Appreciation of the moments we have often helps us to focus on that which enables us to stand, open our eyes and focus on the light ahead. It may only be a tiny dot, but as we continue to walk it gets bigger. As it increases in size we can be motivated to keep moving forward, guided by the Light, embraced by the Light, sharing the Light.