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We Can’t Force Something to be What it’s Not

What I love the most about life is what it teaches me about life. Metaphors and symmetry. The skinny trees do not break with strong winds because they are flexible and flow with the current. So they survive. But the solid, unwavering trees snap under pressure because they refuse to bend.

When working with a stone it has to be recognized for what it is. If it’s porous it will not become shiny. If it’s full of cracks or holes, it will snap under pressure. If it’s shaped a certain way, it cannot be grown or redirected. A lapidarist has to work with what the stone already is. It cannot be made into something it is not. Personally I take this a step further, each stone speaking to me in terms of what it wants to become. As if it already is an elephant and I just uncover it like an archaeologist unveiling a fossil or ruin. Sometimes I have an idea in mind for the stone, but it tells me differently. It shows me, no I’m not a box turtle, I’m a sea turtle. No, my ears are pointed down, not up. Little details I was unable to see until deeper into the work. It’s not about me projecting my will upon the stone, but instead listening to the rock and allowing it to show me what’s inside.

I think about this in terms of children. It’s not a parent’s job to mold a child into what they want them to be. You cannot make a person into something they are not. Or if you try, like with a stone, it/they will crack. And sure, you can glue it back together, but you will have destroyed its integrity.

It’s the job of a parent to nurture, love, guide, open up a child and make them feel safe to express themselves. Provide a safe environment for them to experiment and grow. Not to force. Not to have an idea in mind of who the child should become, but to listen to the child when they tell you who they are.

And that’s life isn’t it. Not to force our will upon things, but to listen and allow things to tell us what’s already there.

(Just to be clear, a parent’s job is also to teach their children about the world, about consequence, respecting boundaries, self-control, how to communicate, etc. Kids do not learn what they are not taught.)

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