August 3 – The Stripping of Our Will – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“These bodies are perishable, but the Dweller in these bodies is eternal.” Bhagavad-Gita 

Most vegetables and fruits grow within a covering that must be peeled away if the sweetness and ripeness is to be eaten. There are many ways this speaks to the human journey, but perhaps one of the most important involves the way in which who we are grows within the covering of our will.

We often protect our little seeds of effort, desire, passion, and curiosity by wrapping them in grand designs and ambitious plans that in the end rarely have anything to do with the sweetness and ripeness of what finally grows within us. However, it is important to remember that, just as corn cannot mature unless it is covered for months by its husk, we need to incubate who we are within layers of who we might yet become.

There is nothing wrong with this. Most things in life need a protective container in order to grow. We can hurt ourselves, though, when we keep the fruit that is us covered too long.We can go bad, can begin to spoil within, if we stay encased in old plans once who we are inside has matured. Perhaps when we move or change careers or relationships, we are trying to free ourselves of all that has covered us, even if it has helped us grow. Although,we may come to realize that it may be our way of loving that needs to be shed and not who or what we care for.

The most humbling part of this is that, though we need to make plans and work toward goals and imagine possible futures, none of it can prepare us for the moment that we ripen. Once the soul fills  out like mature fruit, all of our fantasies, ambitions, and deep complaints turn to useless skin. Once ripe, once able to feel compassion and joy, all forms of sacrifice and postponement for the  future begin to make us decay inside. Like the silk that keeps the corn shiny, all our delicate dreams of tomorrow have served their purpose when the heart pops up like a kernel.

Since none of us can control or time the ripening of our sweetness, we can only try not to define ourselves by all that covers us, even if it has helped us grow. In this way, we can strive hard and long, wanting to be the sun itself, only to ripen and burst with our little bit of sun exactly where we are. So dream,as you will, plan to build your version of the pyramids, scheme to make and spend several fortunes. For nothing matters but the sweetness, the sweetness incubated in our dreams and sufferings, finally brought to air.

 

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