“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~Chinese Proverb
While playing Lego blocks with my daughter, yesterday afternoon, my attention was piqued by a home she had built for one of her little miniature dolls. She had erected the walls around the figurine, and in the excitement of the moment, she had forgotten to include a door.
Here was the poor little doll, sitting in a cluster of colored plastic bricks tightly intertwined together as fingers in prayer; her painted eyes were fixed against the wall in front of her, and her hands rested hopelessly at her sides – a prisoner of her own play-world.
When I mentioned to my daughter about the missing door, she raised an eyebrow and studied the situation for a moment, then began to remove blocks – one at a time – from one of the walls. In no time, sunlight streamed through the opening and kissed the blonde hair of the doll with a sparkle of gold. My daughter smiled, and said: “See mom? All you have to do is remove some of the bricks”.
Her words opened another door - one of awareness, this time. How often do we build walls around ourselves, and do so gradually and slowly enough that we forget they are even there? Since childhood we are handed out blocks by people and events, and we quietly stack them one above the other as a reflex. We are given blocks of rules, religious convictions, societal manners, external judgment, and we arrange them around ourselves as we try to determine who we are. Once adults, we continue to build with extra blocks that we accept and make our own as we shape the course of our lives.
Once the walls are built, they appear impenetrable, and we learn how to live within their confines if we fail to see a way out. Yet, it is always possible to get out. Regardless of the situation we may be closed into, we are never fully trapped until we believe we are.
Walls are made of individual bricks, and those bricks can be removed, one by one, in the reverse order they were stacked up. Knocking down a whole wall at one time would require too much energy, and, frankly, adjusting to such a radical change would be more traumatizing than remaining within the protective walls we have built overtime.
Removing one block at a time allows us the opportunity to grow stronger with each phase of the removal, and gives us time to integrate the new awareness within the folds of what we deem comfortable and acceptable. As a prisoner who’s been locked up in the darkness of a cell for years, we need time to adjust to the brightness of sunshine.
Once we finished our Lego house, my daughter looked at it with pride, and no better words could have been spoken that when she said: “Look, Mom, Kelly is happy now – she has a beautiful house and she is free to go out to play.”