Chapter Four

THE TABLE

last updated 1.12.21



Imagine that you were born with a table in front of you and everyday a variety of items were placed on it; experiences, needs, desires, questions, perceptions, etc. As a child, everything you saw and experienced came to you from across this table. When you're very young, it is someone else's responsibility to keep your table clear. If they don't, whatever is allowed to remain will begin to block your view of the world while cluttering your ability to process your experiences.

A lot of what comes across your table is neutral information, basics facts about life, which you absorb like a sponge so these things don't stay on your table very long because you're constantly processing the information from the vast world around you. For the most part, your table remains clear almost automatically because life is such a wonder and your mind and spirit are eager to take it all in. Every day contains new experiences and lessons. Of course, you are still very dependent on your parents, or guardians, so when something like hunger appears on your table it will not go away until someone feeds you. Once you have eaten, your table is once, again, clear. Whatever you can't do for yourself like providing food, clothing and safety for yourself will remain on your table until someone else removes it.

Then the day comes when you are responsible for keeping your table clear all by yourself. Your parents, teachers, coaches, etc. will no longer be the ones doing this for you. At this point in your life, your table may not be as clear as it was when you were born. The adults in your life are not perfect and try as they did they might not have kept your table perfectly clear. You may, also, have had experiences that no one else knows about and these things will stay on your table unless you remove them, if you even know how. Despite that you are still fairly young when this day arrives, certain things may still have been on your table for a long time, so long that you may have gotten used to looking right past them and no longer realize they're even there. Our minds are creatures of habit. These are blind spots and they are more common than most people realize, hence their name, but that's life. None of us are perfect and none of our tables are completely clear by the time we become adults.

However, when this day arrives and for everyday that follows, it is up to us to keep our tables as clear as possible if we want to see the world and other people for what and who they truly are, not to mention, ourselves. Keep your table clear. It's not easy, but after a person does this for the first time, they experience a sense of freedom and clarity that they'll never want to live without. It is never too late to do this. Those who do it once, want to do it everyday. They quickly and easily notice when something appears on thier table that needs to be addressed because it is so obvious. The clearer our table, the easier it is to realize when something is placed on it and the harder it is to overlook. If a person's table is cluttered, they may not even notice, or care, when something new lands on it. As the pile on their table becomes bigger and bigger, it will begin to shut the person off from the world and everyone in it. Eventually, all they may be able to see is the mess in front of them, which is not the real world. If a person somehow realizes that this has happened, the thought of trying to clear their table, now, may seem like too daunting of a task and they might just continue to ignore it letting the pile grow more and more. If they manage to keep even just a small hole to view the rest of the world through, what they see will not be accurate. It will be distorted. Looking at the world this way, a butterfly can look like a fire-breathing dragon. Someday, the pile may grow so big and heavy that the person's table comes crashing down. The good news is the person, if they're lucky, will once, again, see the world and all its beauty for the first time in a very long time. The bad news is they may not survive the crash, along with anyone close to them when it comes down. But if they do survive, they may see enough and experience the freedom from their confinement to inspire them to start cleaning up the rubble of their life. I don't recommend this approach, but if a person survives, it's still worth it. Deciding to undertake the task before something this dangerous happens prevents a lot of pain for yourself and those around you.

The idea of the table is just a metaphor, but it is a very useful one. The first time I chose to clear my table, after knocking it over a few times in my youth, I had to right a few wrongs, face some fears, clean up messes and even contact people who I hadn't seen in a long time. I didn't wholey understand why I was doing it, but something told me it was what I needed to do and once I did, I experienced what life was supposed to feel like. It freed up other abilities that I didn't even know I had for instance listening to something other than my hurried thoughts. Once I experienced this freedom, I could never go back to allowing my table to become a cluttered mess. Keeping it clear is a daily chore, but, it's the only way to live, in my opinion. Some people don't know what they're missing, but to live life to the fullest, we, first, need to create a place to be filled. We have to empty out the bad to make room for the good. That place is our hearts.

There's nothing complicated or tricky about living this way. Some fancy new skill isn't required. We already have all the tools we need inside us. We just have to start using them. All a person needs to do is to start being honest. Even a child knows how to do this until this artficial world teaches them how not to, but we all still know how to as scary as it might be. It starts with one honest step at a time in any direction. Just one step. The amazing thing about the truth is that it's connected to everything. Every true statement about life is somehow connected to everything else even things completely foreign and different from it regardless if we as humans can't immediately see how. We don't need the whole map. All we need is a good compass. The more honest we become the stronger our faith in the truth becomes.

This is why it doesn't matter in what direction a person takes their first step. Starting simple helps. It's going to take a little practice so building momentum with little things is beneficial, at first. Once a person begins, the key is to catch things early and not allow them to add to the pile they're trying to reduce, but if no one has ever taught us how to do this by the time we become adults we may already think it's too late. This is why a dishonest person is petrified by the truth, but it's never too late because often removing big items will clear off large areas of one's table allowing light that hasn't shown on them in a very long time to help them see things better. Often the biggest encouragement a person receives to undertake the task of clearing their table comes in the form of a significant life event, good or bad, which gives them a brief glimpse of how life truly is. Sometimes we learn that some of the things on our table aren't even ours. It was left there by someone else a long time ago and we've been carrying it our whole lives. The best incentive that I can offer anyone is that there is often one major item on your table that was placed there when you were very young that I guarantee once it is removed your view of the world and of yourself will be incredibly different, incredibly better.

The things that land on our tables are all of life's experiences, boring and repetitive or life altering and traumatic. Regardless of what type they are, if unaddressed they will affect our view of the world and the people in our lives. Keeping one's table clear is a 24hr/day job. The more you do it, the freer you feel and the better you become at recognizing when something new lands on it. It is, also, a brave undertaking because life and the world in all it's glory can be overwhelming, at times. Having nothing between ourselves and this big, beautiful world can be scary sometimes, but the more we face this fear the stronger and more liberated we become. If you are someone who finds life exhilarating and wants to live to your fullest potential once you have experienced life with a clear table you will never settle for living any other way, but it's crucial not to try to do this alone.

Your table is a tool for life. If you're smart enough to have learned that you don't know everything and there's something greater than yourself operating in your life, a good way to connect to listen to it is by quieting your mind, which having a clear table allows you to do. The path that you are suppose to take or the right decision you are suppose to make cannot be seen or found if your table is cluttered and distracting you. Sometimes we are like hunters and need to be very quiet and move slowly looking for subtle signs and clues to guide us. The clearer our table the better chance we have of seeing them. Instead of a table, imagine a calm lake completely flat and still. The right decision about something is like a bubble that stirs from somewhere deep below and rises to the surface saying "Here I am." When you see it you automatically know that it is the right decision. You can feel it in your core, but you will never notice it if the surface of your lake is always rough with waves splashing all around. Once you know the calmness and clarity of a clear table, or a calm lake, you will immediately feel when it begins to get messy and instinctively know when something is affecting your perspective. You will stop, search, find and address whatever it is. Life isn't always calm and quiet. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and there is chaos all around us, but not inside us. We do not lose the clarity we have gained from all the work we have done when life throws a million things at us. We can't control what's going on in the outside world, but we can control what's going on in our inner one. We use this clarity to cut through all the distractions, stay the course and find the way or save the day.



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