Monday, February 25, 2008

NPR - Concrete floors

Why do people like standing on concrete floors? And not just physical ones, like basements, but more so the mental ones, the ones they like to call the foundations of their view and perspective of the world and life. I don't mean just the religious folks who preach and teach about the absoluteness of their ambiguous religion, but in a way many of us, and all in some aspects and respects, who try to make an issue something solid they can stand on without any possibility of being moved.

And yes, we're all there, standing on our own concrete floor. The question is how big and thick the floor is, meaning how much of your life and how many of the issues in life, not yours but the whole of them, is your floor so solid you won't budge and it can't move, or so you think and like to say. Ever heard of an earthquake?

Not the kinda that rocks California and other places, although they do wonders on concrete floors, but the kind that rocks your heart, your mind, your soul and your spirit. In other words knives through the mental walls you've built around yourself and your views of the world, and shakes your mental floor so hard it not only moves, but cracks and crumbles from the obviousness of the reality you've just experienced.

And still you insist on standing on concrete floors?

Where I live earthquakes aren't common, or at least the ones that are felt - the San Juan de Fuca plate likes to vent itself in smaller, shallower increments of movement, except the occasional really big one, like the Nisqually earthquakes of April 1949 and February 2001. Where I live, I've felt about four in the last twenty-plus years, most small ones (<4.0) originating a few miles north and shallow).

The February 2001 earthquake was different. It shook the house like a child shakes a toy. Everything moved every direction except up or down, just waves going through from one corner to the opposite corner. The house twisted and swayed, and in the end, when the earth settled down, came back to normal. Nothing fallen off the walls, not fell from the cupboards, nothing slid off tables, but everything was different.

And through it all and afterward, it confirmed the old-fashioned logic about your house and your land. You build a flexible house on firm land and a stiff house on less than firm land. I live on the top of a well cemented sandstone bluff, old glacial fill from the Vashon Stage where the weight of the glacier sat and pushed everything into a tight, solid mixture of everything it deposited about 12,000 years ago when it advanced south and then receded north.

So solid earthquake waves simply pass through not disturbing the land one bit, but transftering all the energy to the house. And if your house isn't flexible, it falls. And while it demanded your attention to your world for those moments in time, mental earthquakes do the same to our reality and life. The lesson is the same.

You should be flexible in your life where everything appears solid but transfers energy to you. You need to know to be open to seeing, learning, understanding, accepting, and whatever else the situation demands of you. You're already standing on firm beliefs and values, but you have to be flexible for the diversity of the world, life and people. It's about giving and forgiving, yourself and others for being human.

You should be stilff but learn to move in your life when everything isn't so solid, where everything can move dramatically in many directions, and you end up somewhere else. You have to have that belief in yourself to adapt and adjust to the new situation and reality while maintaining your sense of yourself. And be willing to have a few mental bumps, scratches and bruises.

And even maybe a significant paradigm shift. For being solid isn't about being rigid. It's about be alert and alive, and being in the times to know everything else is different and you have to change your view but not your beliefs. When everything is different when it's up, down and sideways, you have to find your foundation again for your mental floor.

The point? Well, it's about thinking that standing on concrete, physical or mental, is absolute and solid for your world and life. It isn't. It's about being relative to the whole world, life and people today and being relevant to the whole as a person and a human being. And standing on concrete will only leave you cold, stiff and sore, and no one around you.

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