The sandstone mind…
The mind fools us all. We think we know truth, but we rarely do, at least not the entire truth. We’re story tellers. It’s built into our DNA. Last year, at Boy Scout camp, the troop was big and unruly. Leaders had to correct behavior often, and rarely were all the boys listening at once. At one point, I was so sick of the disrespect and dishonesty that I sat all the boys down around the fire pit and told them the story Beowulf’s fight with Grendel.
The message I wanted to impart was the line in the epic poem which reads, “A man with any gumption will take the measure of two things, what a man says, and what he does.” I wanted to let them know that no matter what they told us, we men were watching their actions above all else. Then I told them of Beowulf and Grendel’s fight to the death. As I did, every single boy fell silent, all eyes on me. No one moved. No one got out a deck of cards. No one whispered to anyone else. They were all right with me in that singular moment. That is the power of story. No authority could do what that story did. It captured their hearts and held them rapt.
We are compelled by story, most notably our own story. We are won over by our beliefs, and those beliefs drive us to success or failure. By why does one man fall while another succeed? Why does a woman struggle so much while her sister thrives? Story. It’s all about story.
Imagine the mind as a sandstone slot canyon, undulating, and curved like the Upper Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. The stone is complex, beautiful, terrifying and fascinating. Sunlight in the caves glows off the cool, fluted walls, ensnaring the eye as it sweeps from one curve to the next. Like the slot canyon, carved by flash floods, our minds are constantly being carved by our thoughts. When we’re born, our canyon has a rough shape, but it is largely unformed. Then we are given thoughts by those who care for us, and those thoughts begin to sculpt the stone, each singular thought ineffective against the surface, but a thousand… ten thousand, they le
ave gouges and sworls in the multicolored stone.
As the shape of the canyon forms, our thoughts become habitual. Who we are, what we can do, what we can’t, what we’re worth. Each repetition of those thoughts carves out a few more grains. We become imprisoned by this. But what happens when we change the flow? It took a long time to carve those walls to appear as they do today. How long to carve out new patterns?
But just as a flash flood flowing in from a new direction will change the shape of the canyon, different thoughts repeated will reshape our minds.
Tomorrow… Mind Carving…