Stepping Stones

Crossing a river, stepping from one rock to another, calls for great concentration. I am reminded of photographs of Tibetan peasants balancing on a log perched high above a dangerous waterfall, while carrying a heavy burden. They have only to let their concentration waver for a moment and they are in danger. So crossing from one stone to another calls for enormous concentration, calculation and balance. The stones will be irregularly placed, and some so far apart that we will have to jump and hope we don’t slip and fall into the raging waters. We mustn’t even think about the shore on the other side, but simply focus first on one stone, then the next, and the next, until, finally, we arrive on the other shore. It is the same kind of concentration that is called for in the practice of meditation.

And it is the same when we undergo any form of art or creative practice or therapy. One step at a time, pause, recollect, then assess the next step, and so on. Reaching the other shore is not the end of the story. Once we have crossed the river, there will be jungles and deserts, as well as green and fertile plains, or high mountains to be traversed. What we have to grasp is that the journey is unending, because the real journey in life is inward. It is one of constant exploration and discovery. As Boethius, the sixth century statesman and philosopher, wrote, ‘Thou art the journey and the journey’s end.’

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