Barry Smith: Irrelativity
Whenever I do something – anything – I always feel like it’s really just a metaphor for the rest of my life.
For example, when I weed the garden, I feel like I’m “weeding” myself, pulling out and discarding things that I no longer wish to have around me so that my roots are free to reach deep into the ground. When I wash the dishes, I know that I’m really clearing away life’s debris, preparing the way for more nourishment. Making the bed is obviously representative of bidding farewell to the dreaming world and preparing for fully realized consciousness.
Everything is symbolic of something else. I just can’t help it. It’s not the worst mental condition one can have, but it does tend to make simple domestic chores take far longer than they need to.
And I can sometimes get a bit carried away with it and lose myself in a world of metaphor overload. This is what happened to me over the past weekend, when I finally got around to to the project of opening the windows in the upstairs bedroom. Judging by the coats of paint sealing these windows shut, they hadn’t been opened in about 50 years, so it was no small task. Luckily, I had the power of metaphor to keep me going.
To give you an idea of how swept away I can get by the Symbolism Express, I’ve broken it down for you. Below is a rundown of the window-opening project, fully exposing the gap between what was happening and what I was convinced was “really” happening.
What I think I’m doing: I am slicing through resistance. There are beliefs, actions and patterns in my life that have me stuck. In order to free myself from these ruts, I must sever certain ties with the past and pierce through the binding layers of repetition that are keeping me from moving forward.
What I’m actually doing: Cutting the old paint from around the windows with a razor knife.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am achieving perfect balance. Balance is active, not passive, and is gained through a series of steps, each taking you closer to the uppermost state of ultimate perfection.
What I’m actually doing: Nervously climbing the ladder to cut the paint from the outside of the window, stopping just short of the step that claims not to actually be a step.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am calling forth my inner strength. Sometimes force is necessary for change. Often, we can get so bogged down in ourselves that a large jolt is required to move things along. Progress isn’t always gentle and fun. If I’m serious about personal growth, I might need to put forth tremendous effort occasionally.
What I’m actually doing: Attempting to pry open the window with a crowbar.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am eternally returning to the path. The way to enlightenment is lined on either side with discomfort. If you step off the path, you will feel the results. This is not a punishment but a reminder of no longer being on the path. When you deviate, the task is always to find a way back without getting mired in guilt or self-pity.
What I’m actually doing: Clutching my throbbing hand, the one that I’ve just accidentally smashed with the crowbar.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am nourishing and replenishing my psyche. Expansion must be followed by contraction, exhale requires inhale, and so on.
What I’m actually doing: Taking a break, eating cookies and settling in for a mid-project nap. Metaphor is exhausting.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am reducing the friction with which good things come to me.
What I’m actually doing: Rubbing a bar of soap on the sides of the window sill. It’s supposed to make it slide up and down easier. I read this online.
• • • •
What I think I’m doing: I am embracing the yin and yang of life. Perseverance is its own reward, so it’s crucial not to be attached to outcomes.
What I’m actually doing: Opening the window, finally, only to watch several dozen mosquitoes immediately fly into the house.
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