When something breaks we chuck it into the wheelie bin. It, whatever it is, is of no more use to us, unless we can repair it, but nowadays, repairing things broken is both an art and an opportunity for the introduction of a Health and Safety scare. A broken ladder might be repairable, but how will I feel each time I climb it? A mug with a glued on handle is asking for the third degree and as for a chip in the rim, well goodness me no! The glue always goes brown anyway. A garden chair, tied up with string might collapse under my neighbours backside and I might be sued. In truth, the dump sites across our land are rising into the clouds with all those broken things nobody cares to mend. It was our forbears who mended things and that was because there was a war on, so they tell us.
On days when I am most aware of my broken-ness, it feels like there are a trillion biting ants on the inside of my skin. I am restless, distracted, flitting from one small task to another to fill in the time till lunch. I am without purpose and being without purpose is the scariest (and most illuminating) feeling of all, because my monkey mind (that’s the bad dude within) begins to speak, with volume, authority, assertion.
‘What you should be doing is this. Why aren’t you? Because your’e lazy, that’s why. You always were. You’re putting on weight too, just look at that flubbidy belly, and those old lady shoes you bought make you look like Olive Oyl. You should be re-writing that novel, not persuading yourself this isn’t the right time. Why aren’t you? You always did waste time, your mother said so, all that reading and thinking and staring at clouds did you no good at all. Look at that person over there or look at him! They have purpose in life. See how busy they are. They’re not lazy. You’re hopeless.
And so on.
Often, I have believed in monkey mind, and the listening to what it says takes me way down into a pit. Trouble is, most of what it says I agree with, a bit. It is so much harder to counteract that ceaseless babble with ‘Things I Could Say To Myself’, such as ‘you are wonderfully made, unique, perfect for this life you lead, you are more than enough, I love you.’
Sounds like poppycock, even as I’m saying it, to the raggedy torn up inside of me with my fizzing head and my flat feet (in Olive Oyl shoes), but I am learning, inch by inch (do we still know inches?) to stop, to stand or sit still, to keep myself right in the present moment, the horribly itchy raggedy-anne moment, and to wait.
For what, you might ask? For the angels to swoop in like swallows with big smiles on their faces? For the phone to ring with news of a painting sold, or the offer of a regular article slot for a magazine with a big readership? Well, no. That might have been my hope in the past, but now I know that when something suddenly lifts me away from this discomfort and pain, all that happens is that I am temporarily relieved of looking at it, at myself, of being alone with me. The itch will always come back because I am still broken and not accepting that I am.
To sit and to stay sat-sitting is not easy, not without a book, a friend, a tv programme, a knitting pattern, a hem to sew up. In fact, my old mother in law would have something to say about any such pre-lunchtime sitting.
‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop’ for one, and ‘I’ve got a job for you as you’ve obviously nothing to do!’ another. From childhood onwards there is noise, activity, stimulation and we are taught drive and motivation, that time is not for wasting, it’s the early bird that catches the worm etcetera etcetera. Who teaches us how to sit, to reflect, to watch, to say nothing, hands quiet, mouth closed, eyes, ears and heart open? Glory heavens…. the country would have collapsed by now had such nonsense been allowed!
I cannot meditate because it just makes me laugh. I see myself as ridiculous and can’t erase the image from my mind, even though I know meditating is something rather wonderful. My mind is never quiet, not even in sleep. There is always noise inside that shorn drum. It’s like a farmyard at feeding time. Knowing that this chatter has a lot to do with my broken-ness is a start. Knowing that it is only in the quiet places, the still moments, that the higher spirit inside of me, inside us all, gets a chance to say a word or two is another step along the road. But the world, the monkey mind is strong, powerful, believable and cunning, and not just in me. It is tempting to run fast, and to run faster. It is tempting to fill every minute with jibber jabber and small tasks, to be like others, to fit in, to kid ourselves everything is okay. It is tempting to run away from looking inside and, besides, it’s messy in there. However, this running is not away from anything but our own broken-ness, our own hurts, rejections, betrayals. Running is….. Us avoiding us. You avoiding you. Me avoiding me. And yet, in our stopping, in our acknowledgment of this broken part within, lies the real hope, hope that has nothing to do with our plans, nothing to do with our cashflow or the area we live in, the partner we choose, the school we went to. In pulling out that brick from the wall around me, I let go, relinquished control. All i could see was wall anyway, but now I have this spectacular view and no idea what to do with it. It’s new land to me, new sky. There might be dragons out there, thieves and plunderers, villians and demons, disaster, destruction.
Or, there might not.
Being broken to whatever degree and for whatever reason is not a state of permanence. Unlike the ladder or the cup or the garden chair, admitting to our broken-ness and accepting it heralds a new beginning. Unlike ‘things’, we glorious human beings with our colours and our light and our unique and beautiful inner spirit, can re-build into something even more wonderful with no glue showing at all.
And remember this…….. the most beautiful mosaics are made with broken pieces.