On her mantle in the center sat a glass case. It was there, on display in between photographs taken candidly, the ones that embody so much joy that ones eyes are drawn to them upon entering the room only seconds before a smile forms. The smile stays moments before eyes drift to the glass case where the face twists in curiosity over what exactly is being displayed. It is at this point she smiles, and begins her favorite story–one that she never tires of telling because of the many journeys it has catalyzed.
It is a tornado, she says matter of factly, where after she is immediately faced with a most quizzical and bewildering look from her guests. Their eyes quietly ask for elaboration, and sometimes their lips do as well. Well, she begins, I can’t think of many things more powerful than a tornado. Strong and beautiful, resilient and yet it is disastrous and destructive when let loose so I keep mine here in this glass case under control. It is now that the guest will peer back at the case hoping to see something that they missed before, perhaps a tiny swirling funnel that fell on blind eyes just moments ago. Alas, the case remains empty they are sure of it.
You cannot encase a tornado, they say to her. Oh? She replies, eyes big and full of genuine surprise. They tell her of the elusiveness of the wind, how once you enclose it, it disappears, its power now defunct. You cannot control something as fugitive as a tornado. She ingests the notion intently before she responds. So there is no tornado in my case? No, they always assert. It is empty.
I take it to mean that you cannot control the uncontrollable, she asks. They stop and ponder. Nothing as big as a tornado, they offer. Is there anything smaller ? Again, the face of bemusement; well everything is, just about, they say. Oh? Are you sure, she asks? So control is for small things not big things. Well…not necessarily, they have found themselves in a philosophical spiderweb with a black widow. What can be controlled? They say an array of things, and she considers them all, each one of their offerings carefully and curiously before she asserts, then perhaps it is not the tornado in its entirety, perhaps in my case I simply house the possibility.
I was reading a book, Leading with Soul, when I got to a part that read, Control is an illusion. It’s seductive because it gives a feeling of power. Something to hold on to. So it becomes addictive. It’s hard to give up even when it’s not working. You can’t start a journey until you let go of habits holding you back. …There is a story about a stream that flowed around many obstacles until it arrived at a desert. The stream tried to cross, but its waters disappeared into the sand. In the past [the stream] always got past obstacles [but] now there was a desert to cross. The stream heard a voice. It said, ‘The wind crosses the desert. So can the stream.’ The stream protested, ‘The wind can fly but I cannot.’ The voice responded, ‘let yourself be absorbed by the wind.’ The stream rebelled. ‘I want to be the same stream I am today.’ ‘That is not possible,’ said the voice. ‘But your essence can be carried away and become a stream again.’ The stream remembered dimly that she had once been held in the wind. She let her vapor rise into the arms of the wind, which carried the vapor across the desert and then let it fall in the mountains. There it again became a stream.
It made me think about the feeble things we hold on to seeking some semblance of control in our lives. We attempt to control the uncontrollable, i.e. enclosing tornadoes in glass cases, and in that illusion we search for solace and stability in the knowing that we have tamed some great beast. So far removed from our own essence we forget that we need not fight against things because we are those things, we are connected to them and they are a part of us and not only that, but we lack the faith that somehow we will be okay, that somehow in surrender we will find defeat. Where did that come from? How did we lose sight of the possibility of things?
I said that I wanted to write my dissertation about exploring spirituality in decision making–the intangible, hard to name, factors that govern why we do what we do. I thought about who I wanted to study and I thought about business students, law students, black students, women, it all crossed my mind before I literally came full circle with counseling students. And oddly enough it felt like the biggest epiphany. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? Those are my people. Perhaps because in this work there is so often the push to step outside of one’s comfort zone and do something different, but the things that I decided was that sometimes things feel scary and sometimes things feel wrong and it would serve me well to learn the difference.
Being in alignment, spiritual alignment, with your work keeps you passionate. My book says, The heart of leadership is in the heart of leaders. You have to lead from something deep in your heart…I can’t tell you what’s in your heart, nor would you want me to…a business is what you make it. If you beleive it is a machine, it will be. A temple? It can be that too. Spirit and faith are the core of human life. Without them, you lose your way. You live without zest. You go through the motions, but there’s no passion.
This is so important in the work of therapists and counselors; if you lose sign of why…of your heart’s governance, then there is no passion, and as our business is human capital, we cannot afford to not be passionate about our work. We have to be or we risk doing great harm to our clients. And after a year of being unsure, I have never been so sure. And nobody could have told me, it was a path I needed to walk on my own. I had to believe in and consider the possibility in all things to some extent…and in that the one meant for me arose.
I thought of the little story of the glass case because it is something I would do. I would champion and display something gargantuan as a tornado and as others would say I was daft or mistaken about the contents of my case, I would be sure of its contents. I would keep it there to be continually challenged by those who enter my space. Are you certain that this exists? I am certain of its possibility. And as a reminder to myself…to be mindful of the magic in this world and how “nothing” is a field of “anything” given enough time.