Wednesday, March 2, 2011
When he got older, his father said to him:
-My son: not everyone is born with wings. No one is forcing you to fly, but I think it would be a shame for you to limit yourself to walking when God gave you wings.
-But I don’t know how to fly – replied the son.
-True… - said the father. And so he led his son on foot up a mountain to the edge of an abyss.
-Do you see, my son? It’s empty. When you want to fly, come here, take a deep breath and jump.
The son had doubts.
-What if I fall?
-Although you will fall, you won’t die. When your cuts and bruises heal you will be stronger for the next attempt.- the father answered.
The son went back to town to see his friends, whom he had walked with all his life.
The most close-minded ones said to him: Are you crazy? Why? Your father has gone half-mad… Why do you need to fly? What’s it good for? Forget it...
His best friend tried to reason with him: Even if your father is right, it’s too dangerous! Wouldn’t it be better to start more slowly? ...from the top of the stairs or from up on a tree, but… from a cliff?
This advice made sense to him, so he climbed a tree and summoning all of his courage, he jumped. He spread his wings, and beat them with all his might but fell awkwardly to the ground.
Walking along with a big bump on his forehead he saw his father.
-You lied to me!- he said- I can’t fly. I tried and look what happened. Look at this bruise! I’m not like you. My wings are just for decoration.
-My son – said the father – In order to fly you have to create space in the open air so that your wings can really spread out. It’s like a parachute. They only work from a high altitude.
To fly you have to begin taking risks.
If you don’t want to, maybe the best thing is just to give up, and keep walking forever.
Friday, November 5, 2010
That afternoon I knew what I wanted to talk about: I wanted to continue our discussion of force.
Every time we talked about it in the office it made sense, but when it came time to act, I couldn't do it. As attractive as it sounded in theory, in reality I couldn't keep it up.
-I'm getting the feeling that if I don't use a little force once in a while, I won't be able to get along with my life. Honestly, I don't see how someone - anyone, achieves that goal.
-You're right about one thing - said the Fat Man - I've spent the better part of the last twenty years trying. I haven't always succeeded. I think it's the same for everyone. Pacifism is a challenge, a practice, a discipline. It takes training.
At first, it seemed impossible. What would they think of me if I started missing meetings? If I wasn't listening attentively to people even when I didn't give a shit what they were saying? If I didn't thank the men whom I despised? If I just refused to do things I didn't want to do? If I only worked four days a week and gave up the extra pay? If I stopped shaving? If I forced myself to smoke until I couldn't quit? If...?
-I wrote something once about the idea of necessary force. It's a social construct. Part of a fixed ideology which draws a bleak picture of humankind. If we are, in fact, lazy, evil, selfish and neglectful, then it's necessary for us to force ourselves to be better.
But Damian, is that really our nature?
I was fascinated, not just by what Jorge was saying, but by my own fantasy of what it would be like to live life in a perpetual state of relaxion, never fighting myself, calm, never rushing, never questioning myself.
But, what's the first step?
-First - he continued, as if he were reading my mind- you have to rid yourself of a misconception that we are taught from birth - A fundamental part of our culture:
You must struggle in order to achieve anything of true value.
As the Americans like to say: that's bullshit. Anyone, regardless of their perception of reality can sense that, but we structure our lives as though it were an absolute truth.
Some years ago, I described a clinical syndrome. It's never been recorded in any of the medical or psychological journals, but we all suffer from it. I call it "the two sizes too small" syndrome, and I'll tell you why.
A man went into a shoe store, and was approached by the salesman.
-How may I help you, sir?
-I'd like a pair of black shoes like the ones you have in the display.
-No problem. Let's see, I'd say you're about a size 12, right?
-No. A 10 thank you.
-I apologize, but I've been doing this a long time, and you might be able to squeeze into an 11, but not a 10.
-Size 10, thank you.
-Please, can I measure your foot at least?
-Measure whatever you want, but I need a 10.
-The salesman pulled out one of those funny devices they use to measure feet, he measured and with tremendous satisfaction pronounced "size 12!"
-Tell me, the man said, who is paying for these shoes? You or me?
-Great. In that case, I'd like you to bring me a size 10.
-The salesman, surprised and dismayed, left to get the shoes. As he was pouring over the boxes, it dawned on him: the shoes aren't for him, they're a gift!
-Here you go, size 10 black.
-Can I have a shoehorn please, he said.
-You're going to put them on!?
-They're for you?
-Yes! A Shoehorn please?
The shoehorn was essential. Without it he couldn't get his foot inside that shoe. After various attempts and as many ridiculous positions, he managed to get his whole foot in it.
He winced and groaned as he took a few paces around the room.
-Ok. Great, I'll take them.
The salesman cringed at the thought of the man's toes being crushed against the fronts of those shoes.
-Can I wrap them for you?
-No thanks. I'll wear them.
The man left and walked, as best he could, three blocks over to the bank where he worked as a teller. At four o' clock, having endured six hours with his feet in these shoes, his face was haggard, his eyes bloodshot, and tears started streaming down his face.
His coworker at the next window over had been watching the whole time and started getting really worried.
-What's going on? Are you sick?
-No. It's my shoes.
-What's wrong with your shoes?
-Why? Did they get wet or something?
-No. They're two sizes too small.
-Are they yours?
-But, your feet! Don't they hurt?
-They're killing me.
Let me explain - he said.
He gulped, and then he said,
-My life doesn't give me much satisfaction. Lately, to be honest, I'm rarely happy.
-I am hurting myself with these shoes. It's terrible ... but, in a few hours, when I get home and take them off ... imagine how good that will feel? It will feel incredible! Can you imagine?
-It seems crazy, right? It is crazy, Damian.
This story is made up to serve a purpose. My stance is extreme too, but it's worth the trouble of trying on the suit to see how it feels.
I believe that nothing of true value can be obtained by force.
I left with the last sentence he spoke ringing in my ears, offensive and rude,
Force... is for constipation.