As eager craftsmen, we steep ourselves in knowledge and practice our way to mastery. It’s bumpy. At some point we reach a place of understanding, as much as we are able to. If we are lucky, we find our way to effortless integration.
Caution. There is what we know, and there is what we presume to know.
The wise are careful. They do not lay back and become lazy thinkers. Concepts change over time. Thought is fluid. Growth is valuable. Experts are adaptable. Hindsight is acute. It’s all a bit messy. Once we pull the pork, we can’t un-pull it. The sauce and spices mingle with the meat. There’s no going back.
On wobbly legs, we disrupt the natural order and beauty of that which is all around us–it’s the unavoidable consequence of being human. We walk across a gently swaying bridge, from a place of unskilled innocence. There is no going back; we have limited choices. We keep going. We may take moments sitting. Occasionally we’ll have to pull ourselves back onto the well-worn boards after a stumble. We will stumble, and if we fear the stumble, we won’t get anywhere at all. We will stumble.
No matter the pace, and without regard for our desirable balance of order versus chaos, we are following in the story of our people—all those who walked before us. Some we may even encounter on the way, sitting for a spell. We all move at different speeds, and the lessons before us are different, too.
With perseverance, we toddle toward something more seasoned. More skilled. More firm. More gracious. More loving. More careful.
Yet, the imperfection and dysfunction–our mortal constraints–all the innocence and disorder stays. It remains. Pockets full of it. Hearts weary from it. Exhausted, but somehow softer. Still full of fury, but with greater acumen…sometimes.
We are capable of learning, and there are ways. For every struggle you bear, someone walked it before you. There are markers and guides. There are places to rest and heal from the many small battles.
Let that heavy heat dwindle down to coals of wisdom. Learn not to stoke the fire, but to keep it softly. It is in the heart of our very worst fears, that we find that which frees us. Just around the corner, one step past.
And no matter how hard it is, and no matter how dark, we don’t go back. No matter who calls us there. We owe ourselves that much. And certainly, there are times we’ll look back. We may take a few steps, even, but a few steps is enough. Call back to others, as a waypoint, a welcome, an invitation. But know one cannot hasten another’s steps.
Strength is not what we think it is.