January 2 – All Fall Down – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
“Lead us from the unreal to the real.” Hindu Invocation
It was a snowy night, and Robert was recalling the time two springs ago when he was determined to pain the family room. Up early, he was out the door, to the hardware store gathering the gallons of red, the wooden mixing sticks, the drop cloths, and the one-time brushes that always harden, no matter what you soak them in.
He mixed the paint outside and waddled to the door with a gallon in each hand, the drop cloth under his arm and a wide brush in his mouth. He began to chuckle in telling what happened. ” I teetered there for a moment, trying to open the door, not wanting to put anything down. I was so stubborn. I had the door almost open when I lost my grip, stumbled backward, and wound up on the ground, red gallons all over me.”
At this point, he laughed to himself, as he has done many times, and we watched the snow fall in silence. I thought of his little story the whole way home. Amazingly, we all do this, whether with groceries or paint or with the stories we feel determined to share. We do this with our love, with our sense of truth, even with our pain. It’s such a simple thing, but in a moment of ego, we refuse to put down what we carry in order to open the door. Time and time again, we are offered the chance to truly learn this: We cannot hold on to things and enter. We must put down what we carry, open the door, an then take up only what we need to bring inside.
It is a basic human sequence: gather, prepare, put down, enter. But failing as we do, we always have that second chance: to learn how to fall, get up and laugh.