September 27 – Leaning In – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
‘Few situations can be bettered by going berserk.’ Melody Beattie
It was the philosopher Michael Zimmerman who told thestory of being a boy in school when someone passed him a pair of Chinese handcuffs, a seemingly innocent thimble like casing with an opening at each end. It was passed to him without a word, and, of course, through curiosity, he slipped his left forefinger in one end and then his right in the other.
Mysteriously, what made them handcuffs was that the more you tried to pull your fingers out, the tighter they held you. Feeling caught, he panicked and pulled harder. The small cuffs tightened. But suddenly, it occurred to him to try the opposite, and as he leaned his fingers into the problem, the small casing slackened and he could gently and slowly work his fingers free.
So many times in life our pulling in panic only handcuffs us more tightly. In this small moment, the philosopher as a boy reveals to us the paradox that underscores all courage: that leaning into what is gripping us will allow us to work our way free.