. . . and a crack on the ceiling had the habit
of sometimes looking like a rabbit.
This line - from Ludwig Bemelman's book Madeline - is one of my favorites. And when I read how he found it , I appreciated it even more.
Ludwig Bemelmans had been in a car accident. Lying in his hospital bed, he noticed a crack in the ceiling that was shaped like a rabbit. In the room next to his was a girl who was going to have her appendix out. These two events were to become key pieces of the first Madeline story. In his hospital bed, experiencing what many would call misfortune, he registered the clues for a new path.
When I'm in the middle of something seemingly difficult or painful, I have a strong inclination to shut down - to resist, try to manipulate the situation, or escape all together. But what I label good and bad become interchangeable when I am looking to create my next step - for all can be used as a portal to creating something from the heart.
Still, I can only see the possibilities my own judgment of a situation will allow. If Ludwig Bemelmans had been consumed with the idea of his misfortune, I don't suspect he would have taken notice of that crack, nor taken any interest in the girl with the appendix.
Openness is the determining factor. We are creators; we can work with anything. There is possibility and potential in everything. Clues are everywhere, ideas- all over the place, new doors- everywhere our attention turns. But, it is the open, curious, non-judgmental eye that sees the guidance the heart provides.
After an evening of playing board games with my youngest son, I found myself reminiscing about a game I played as a child called Dynamite Shack. For the uninitiated: Dynamite Shack consisted of a plastic shack, with a plastic roof, and several sets of over- sized hot pink plastic thumbs that players wore over their own thumbs and used to pick up pieces of plastic dynamite and drop down the chimney of the shack before a timing device went off - that made the roof "blow up" .
This was a tense venture; maneuvering those thumbs was awkward - one had to be focused.
As I was reminiscing about this game and my childhood frantic, giggling efforts to win, it occurred to me what a strange idea it was: over-sized fake thumbs. . . dynamite . . .
This gives me hope for any and all ideas flitting through my mind. If giant pink thumbs, dynamite, and an exploding shack can be a viable, marketable (and fun) game - a "good idea" - life is less a judge and more an appreciator of variety, equal opportunity, and pure playfulness.
To my inner critic who believes in a fine sieve for mining for gold; who thinks she has a clear and unquestionable serious understanding of good and bad ideas, to all of us occasional eye-rollers, naysayers, poo-pooers , I have a new mantra: "Dynamite Shack".
The other night I had a dream in which Jason Alexander, the actor who played George Costanza on the sitcom "Seinfeld", is talking to me. He complains about Jerry Seinfeld, saying Jerry doesn't understand "the difficulty of rolling downhill".
An aspect of my personality is a bit like George: it finds things hard and wants to spend time making a case for why they are so difficult. But what I have learned is the door marked, "Complaint & Resistance" is one and the same with "Lousy Experience". And I open it every time I hold these kinds of grievances.
"Don't waste time arguing for your limitations. . . ."
~ Louise Hay
Rolling downhill is an act of letting go. There is momentum that carries us. And although, there may be bumps along the way, we have a force working in our favor. My instinct tells me the same is true of my life, as a whole.
I think the difficulty I experience is a reflection of making a case - consciously or unconsciously - for how things are hard, wrong, or terminally problematic. Letting go may seem challenging (even impossible) to a part of my personality, but perhaps, if met with compassion, she too will roll and remember - things can be easy.
From the Inside