March 15, 2011
In response to the question of how long a man’s legs should be, Abraham Lincoln reportedly answered, "Long enough to reach the ground."
Dust settles – especially in Phoenix, AZ. The other day when cleaning house, I realized that the chores I perform the most often result from the law of gravity. While vacuuming tile, I picked up the usual debris – dog fur, yard clippings (brought indoors by Xena, my lawn-rolling Doberman), the occasional missed dog treat and the shed remnants of everyday life. The floors of my home offered up a sampling of all that occurred since the last cleaning and reminded me that although we live life on a higher level, everything begins on the lowest plane.
Daring to Expand
With the exception of miners, divers pilots and astronauts (and other assorted occupations) the majority of us spend our time on the planet floor. We ride elevators or climb stairs or transport ourselves on escalators to raise ourselves up, all the while the tendrils of the earth securely anchor us. When we watch children develop, we note a fascinating progression from dependence to autonomy. With their first steps we see their communion with the earth as giggles pour forth when they lose footing. Not succumbing to failure, the toddler continues to defy gravity until he learns to stand and walk on his own. Allowing for an increasingly wider separation and daring to test the comfort zone of distance, the child runs further and further from his parents, all the while returning to touch base and reconnect before venturing out again.
As adults we test our limits with the core of the earth and in our spiritual base. We fly into our atmosphere and eventually return home. Even occupants of the space station come back to earth. Some studies discuss the efficacy of the mission with respect to the biological and psychological impact of such separation. When we stretch our spiritual limits, we tend to return to the familiar, in spite of our intention to reach for new information. Drawn back to what we know, our exploration provides new insight wrapped around old concepts and if we're aware, we apply the information in ways that empower us. Using our new or revised spiritual belief as our "earth," we walk through life on a path that makes sense to us and allows for variations of pavement or direction, all the while firmly grounded.
Dancing through Life
On my daily gratitude list, I include thanksgiving for my mobility. I'm mindful and appreciative that my feet carry me where I want to go. As we notice others without the ease of movement whether from ill health or circumstance, our awareness of our own ability to move at will reminds us that our bipedal nature affords us independence. The symbolic (as well as literal) correlation between freedom of movement and the relative simple access to increase our awareness of the world around us, teaches valuable lessons. For example, when our feet hurt, the rest of our decorum suffers as well. In turn when the foundation for our spirit aches for harmony, our consciousness cries out for relief - and attitudes, clarity and our very countenance may suffer.
From the bottom up – our feet or spiritual foundation - life stabilizes the ground rules for our existence. We may stand on the shaky ground of indecision doubt or fear, or establish a sure footing on the granite walkway of confidence, love, and assuredness. We choose not only the path, but the aggregate of the course as well. Life, a representation of the culmination of our choices, begins at the very ground-level or lowest stratum. If you choose to stand on the solid ground of your beliefs, you’ll rarely suffer from the wobbly quakes that life rumbles into your experience.
Peter the Apostle represented the foundation for the Christian faith with Jesus’ proclamation, "Upon this rock I will build my church." The name Peter (a Latin derivative of the word petro, meaning stone) either ironically became associated the rock-solid foundation for the new religion, or the author of that particular Biblical verse granted literary license to Jesus in so naming the man according to the literal translation of the term. In any case, just as Peter as a human and Peter as a representation of fortitude was chosen as the standard on which an unpopular belief at the time sprung forth, we take a moment to look at our own beliefs and the bases which form our opinions and spiritual qualities.
Archaeological digs derive a lot of information from the skeletal remnants of building foundations. Digging through layers of dirt and years of history, structural walls along with shattered fragments of everyday life reveal much about a culture and individuals. The core beliefs we hold also uncover who we are. The choices we make change the proverbial decorations on the wall, or floor coverings, but our underlying truth forms the basis of who we are as well as who we choose to be. One is always at choice-point to reinforce the foundation and to construct even better experiences for well lived life.
Programming your way to the top
In computer programming, a popular method in writing effective code is often referred to as "top-down programming." This technique begins with knowing the end result (the top) then taking backward steps to the lowest point (where you are at the moment). By writing the steps from this perspective, the challenge is awkward: before I do this, I need to do this. But wait, I need to do this first, and so on.
Alternatively, a programmer writes logic from the bottom up. Just as in life, numerous paths lead to your potential and highest best. Routes to the answer vary according to choices put before us ("if-then-else" in programming). The importance in both programming and in life remains to find a way to, and achieve, the desired result. However, the end result must be identified and quantified or you’ll never know if you’ve accomplished and achieved your goal.
With the solid foundation of the earth beneath us, the confidence of a well-defined spiritual structure as our base and a clearly visualized goal to achieve, our walk through life begins at the bottom. None of us can predict the future, yet the strongest bedrock of determination and the surest footing of solid understanding of our own spiritual fortitude provide us with the natural footpath to the pinnacle of our greatest good. We learn much from what we left behind on our trail, as well as from the roads in front of us. Rest assured that knowing where you are going while using the roadmap of life will bring you to the destination of your dreams!
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