Mar 18, 2008

The Familiar Path and the Frightened Child

A man was walking along a familiar path in the cool of the day, as was his custom. He stopped at his usual place to lean against an old oak tree and noticed a child had built a structure of some sort on a ledge just below this sturdy tree. After a few minutes, he saw the child coming toward him. Trying to be kind, and not wanting to alarm the child, he said hi. The child cordially responded “hi.” The man then rose and resumed his walk. Upon his return later that day, the man noticed that not only was the child gone, but so was the structure. There remained only a few broken pieces of what had been. As the man observed this, he couldn’t help but think that despite his efforts, he had frightened the child…


A-Hawk said...

Wow, found this one from over a year ago that I saved as a draft and then forgot about!!!

Anonymous said...

What does it mean?

A-Hawk said...

Hmmm… read the BTW / FYI section on the left-hand side of the screen. I guess since someone is asking, I can share a little and break my usual silence on interpretation. I’m not even 100% sure myself the exact situation behind this one, after so long. I do, however, remember the heart / meaning behind it.

It is related to The basic idea or thought behind this one is how we tend to isolate ourselves for the sake of protection. In doing so, we lock ourselves into an immature state; we are in one sense or another, children playing in the woods, hiding from the tough things in life… especially other people. Often we choose isolation because we think we can control things better that way, yet there is no truth in that thought. In fact, we lose control more than we gain it, especially later in life. The really sad thing is that by doing this, we defeat ourselves, because it is when we are alone and isolated that we are the most vulnerable. It is like a child who goes deep into the woods to get away from the other children or adults, forgetting (or not even realizing, since immaturity tends to blind) that much greater dangers lie in the woods. Finally, the child moves and scurries about any time something frightens him. Thus, the child is constantly running and being frightened, running and being frightened, etc. Then, as time passes, the very presence of another person frightens the child. He becomes so used to the “on edge” nature of his existence, that any change whatsoever causes panic and flight.

On the other hand, you have the man. This is an adult who has figured out that taking a casual walk by himself is ok, but separation and isolation are not healthy or good. A little alone time can be good, but it is always along familiar paths of safety, to keep from straying, and with a purpose and destination in mind. It is also always with the intent of reflection and reconciliation with those from whom he departed (fancy way of saying time to clear his head and then go home, but with a little dual meaning there as well :). Further, as the adult, the man recognizes the child’s state and condescends as best he can to meet and perhaps even help the child. Realizing that to approach the child will surely frighten him, he simply remains put and greets the child and then continues along his way so as not to make the child too uncomfortable. In life, those who have achieved some level of maturity, must constantly look back, seeking to help those who are behind along the path. This necessarily involves condescending (in the technical sense of the word, not the negative connotation usually associated with it) or operating within the boundaries you know the child to be within. This means sacrifice, patience, and love so that we communicate in a way that will best benefit the child, not merely according to our own whims.

In this case the man did all he could and when he later returned, he realized that the child wasn’t even ready for or able to handle being seen (especially as such) and was continuing steadfast in his own broken way.

Well, there you go, there is a slightly more fleshed-out version of one of my veiled posts… and a good example of how I veil them. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you for your explanation. I did get most of it,though me being me, needed an explanation.
Very thought provoking.

A-Hawk said...

Oh yeah, btw… I forgot to mention something on the child’s side of things. The dialogue between the child and the man was also code. The man greeted the child (condescension, as explained above) and the child replied in a similar manner. Yet, the child’s response was very telling of his condition. The child veiled his fear and discomfort, responding as he had learned to do. The child had learned that concealing fear and discomfort was the easiest way to avoid situations and allowed for a quick escape at the first opportune moment. In other words, if you act like nothing is wrong, no one has to know that anything is. Thus, no one will make you uncomfortable and since no one is “in your closet” no one has to be trusted. Thus, you are free to go about hiding, though right in front of people. In this story, the child did just that, and then continued hiding. He greeted the man, veiling himself, and then disappeared as soon as the man was gone. The funny thing is that the child never fooled the man, the man knew the whole time and was willing to help, but was not willing to push beyond the child’s comfort level. Thus, the child was fooling himself, not the man. The sad thing is that the child really only fooled himself. Also, this pattern is self-perpetuating… as can be seen in the story.

Anyway, this is something I left out the last time, though I meant to include it. It’s pretty important to the meditation and for us to realize. Let us search ourselves, for we are all children in one sense or another!