On a clear, frigid New Year’s Day, I joined a group of folks on a contemplative and conversational walk along a snow and ice-covered creekside trail. Following the tradition of the group, I carried with me a small, smooth, roundish rock that was to represent something about the previous year that I was eager to rid myself of in anticipation of a fresh start in the new year.
At the apex of the trail loop–and after 20 minutes of hard contemplation mixed with easy conversation–I readied myself for the symbolic purging. I wiped snow from a convenient utility box, removed my backpack and set it down. I adjusted my hulking parka to enable a full range of arm motion and pulled my rock from a pocket.
Taking a deep breath, I let my thoughts about the past year bubble up to the surface of my mind. The heaviest of those thoughts then settled down through my brain, down my spine into my shoulder, and then traveled down my right arm where it ultimately found purchase in the hard lump of stone squeezed tightly within my palm.
Self-expectations, the thought identified itself as.
Yes, of course, it was the stubborn, wrong-headed teleological trappings of my ego that had blocked my success for so long. By holding myself to some warped, fun-house mirror image of self worth, I had turned away from the river of creativity that flowed swiftly by–tantalizingly out-of-reach. This. This was the thing of which I needed to rid myself.
With great sense of relief and purpose, I reared back my powerful right arm, cocked my elbow purposefully about my ear, cast my eyes into the deepest reaches of the valley before me, turned my torso in preparation of a full-bodied launch, lunged forward with a giant step of my plant foot into the great unknowable, and unfurled my right arm like a trebuchet. A tremendous, electrical power surged through my body and exited along with the rock as it spun away from the very tips of my fingers. The rock, as it was willed, sailed away from my body and…
Landed hard with a thud…and a sickly trickle. No more than a yard away from my front foot.