The bar of soap slipped out of my wet hand, the 3 glasses of wine I had just consumed compounding my poor grasp with compromised focus. “Damn” I thought with exhaustion, “now I have the work of summoning all my concentration for the challenging task of picking it up”. At least the wine succeeded in temporarily taking my mind off the intense discomfort of the 7 year old scar tissue strangling my whole torso, and the even more suffocating rebellion in my spirit against this suffering despite the years of stretching for relief. It hadn't been a good night.
Even though I remain hopeful, I accept the possibility that no amount of stretching will completely make up for the lack of skin my burn left me with. A shortage that squeezes me into a birthday suit too small for my body, robbing me of the stretch that a lot of movements require. Like bending to pick up a dropped bar of soap. But I've learned to adapt, doing old things in new ways.
With concentration I force my weight against the resistence of tight scar bands to lower onto one knee. Once stable, I bend forward as much as I can stretch the tight skin on my back and pull against the lockdown of adhesions on my thighs and butt to bring me the small distance it takes to get my outstretched hand to where the bar of soap lies. I wrap the stiff fingers of my only hand carefully around the bar of soap. My thumb can no longer bend to complete the grasp effectively so I compensate with greater attention. If I grip too hard the wet bar of soap will rebelliosly slip out of my imprecise clutch. If my grip is insufficiently firm it will also escape. I want to succeed in my first try because it is a lot of work for me to bend down to pick anything up, and a wet bathtub adds risk to the difficulty of maintaining equilibrium without fluidity of movement. So I have reclaimed all my focus from the effects of 3 glasses of wine and directed it toward success.
Suddenly I see that the very demand of accomplishing this simple goal is also a gift, its value equal to its price. The gift is the revelation of my own capacity. The appreciation of this gift is the touching of it with my consciousness, like the fingers that feel with pleasure the beauty of a gift the eyes behold.
I see in this simple act, hiding behind the sacking of frustration and resistence, and the ordinariness of a wet bathtub, a microcosmic example of a grand truth: life presents us with challenges to reveal to us the gifts within us. A truth memorised for the big things in life, the threat of which automatically snap me into attention. But now I see that it was only I that made the distinction between big and small, worthy and unworthy, life changing and ordinary, categorizing according to the criteria of threat or grandeur that blinded me to the power inherent in all situations. Everything it seems, every little action, can present the same challenge, the same gift of opening a window to or a door to or blowing the roof off of my soul. I was too busy looking out, or distracted by the continual output of me, to look in through the peep holes to the soul that even picking up a bar of wet soap opens up. Suddenly I feel with my heart the equal largeness and smallness, specialness and ordinariness of every single step, lightly made.
I see the wet bar of soap in every challenge, demanding a simultaneous concentration and release of me to meet it, revealing to me my capacity, my power, my soul. The price equals the value. And like the art of finding that fine point between too tight and too loose a grip that allows me to hold that wet bar of soap, every challenge met reveals the effective point of being that rests between tension and slackness. The point that allows.