Carving Away Everything Else

I watched this documentary the other night called 'Enlighten Up' about one documnetary gal's (and one unsuspecting test subject's) search for the "true" meaning of yoga.


I thought the show was only okay, but one little section stuck with me. Nick, the guy who's supposed to be changing his life through yoga, is chatting with an Indian guru. The guru tells him that the most important thing Nick needs to learn is how to find his true self. 

"Great, so how do I do that?" says Nick. 

"Get rid of everything that's not your true self," says the guru. 

They say that, when asked how he created David, Michelangelo answered: "I carved away everything that didn't look like David." 

"That's not really how I remember it." 

My biggest challenge has always been figuring out what I want. Once I have a clear goal, I have no problems getting there. 

Actually I get pretty Ahab about getting there. 

Life these days is pretty damned close to perfect, but I had to carve a lot of crap out of my way en route. Hack off huge swaths of everything that didn't resemble the life I wanted, eliminate everything except the me I wanted to be.

When Miss G's dad moved out over a decade ago, it was right around this time of year. Spring in northern Minnesota isn't much to speak of; the calendar 'first day of spring' seems like a cruel joke. That year, though, it was unseasonably warm. Warm enough for thoughts to turn toward summer, toward sitting outside, smoking cigarettes under the stars.

My grandfather's pet project grapevines had taken over the little patio out back. And for nothing; they only put out one or two teensy bunches every year. In a (not unusual) resolution of sudden jaw set, I decided those vines were going. Right then and there. 

I couldn't give my kid her dad back, I couldn't make sense of my life at that moment, but by god I could hack those damned dead twiggy irritations out of the way and set up a stupid table and chairs. And an ashtray. 

Hours later, covered in bracken, I wondered why I bothered. The weeks that had passed between his departure and my brutal murder of defenseless grapevines had taught me nothing. Also, I was pretty sure I'd killed the grapes off entirely, and felt terrible about that too. I wrestled the decrepit patio set under the trellis and crumpled, exhausted. Spring should be hopeful; I felt more lost than ever. 

Miss G thrived, though. I thrived. And a bumper crop of grapes exploded off the vines that summer. Turns out they just needed a good pruning.

Sometimes ruthlessness brings the best rewards.


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