If God is everywhere, then Awareness is in everything. Awareness cannot shrink or withdraw itself from any experience, even the experience of being poured concrete stone.
When a sidewalk is first poured by a stonemason, it lies in absolute comfort on the earth and stone bed that was prepared for it. An insurance policy is built into its flat form. The scored lines that define it as a square assure it that, if times get rough, it may break in an orderly fashion, and that this breakage will be in perfect keeping with tradition and its own supposed destiny to crack along those lines. In this way, a kind of religion has been built into it. Its future has been thought out and the way provided for; a structure has been established that provides a way to deal with future events and prophesies. It says, “The day will come when you will crack along these lines and that will be the will of the stone mason who created you.” Thus comforted, the sidewalk slab lies in deep rest.
Cars drive across sidewalks as they leave the garage and as they return to it. As the rain seasons come and go, slowly water finds its way along the side of the slab of concrete, and eventually it washes underneath. A cavern is created that is not visible to those walking by every day. A tree extends its roots beneath the sidewalk and begins to send water into its roots, like a hydraulic pump. Soon the concrete sidewalk, once so deeply resting, experiences increasing stress. This stress fills it with tensions, unrest, torque that twists at it and threatens its wholeness. This takes place in what appears to be far from the predetermined score marks that were created for just such a time. This stress builds to a degree that becomes truly unbearable. In that moment the sidewalk has a revelation: it conceives of the solution to all of these stresses. The realization comes as an astounding surprise, and the sidewalk cracks in a line that perfectly resolves all of these differences at once. In that moment, realization doubled, it recognizes an amazing truth. Cracking into two pieces reestablishes its lost feeling of being whole! The sidewalk’s definition of being whole has been transformed into no longer being one piece, but two pieces as one whole. It has been restored to inner peace because it redefined itself.
The comfort of its self-realization lasts for months, possibly even years. But with the change of seasons, and the earth itself shifting; the old drum beat of stresses begins anew. What had been secondary discomforts rise to the surface as primary. The faint twists become ever increasing. Still the sidewalk slab holds on to its two aspects, resisting change. But the forces that work upon it one day become unbearable again. In this instant a new revelation strikes it, and in a mathematically perfect line it expresses itself; it breaks into four pieces. That expression of self declares a new identity, that of being four parts, and yet now, after years of distress, it has been restored to a feeling of wholeness. It is at peace again.
Each moment of self-acceptance, each moment of turning to express the tensions within it, has led the sidewalk to redefine itself. In this expression of what was, that expression created the change needed to resolve the anguish of countless disturbances. The expression of what was caused what was to change. This change forever redefined the character of that slab, and yet it brought to it a sense of deep release of tension – we might say, inner peace.
In this way, we can read the sidewalks we walk on, knowing that they, like ourselves, have experienced continual redefinition of “Self,” in order to remain in a state of wholeness. If we could go back to ourselves as a child and present our adult self, the child would not recognize who he or she had become. We have taken so many unexpected turns of defining ourselves in order to resolve tensions that we had no idea would be so powerful. Yet here we are.
In the sidewalk’s cracks, we understand that the sidewalk was not to blame for its continual redefinitions, and simply did what was needed. Can we be as forgiving and self-accepting with ourselves? Can we see the immense beauty that comes with this continual and natural process of moving to ever more sophisticated self-definitions of being whole? This last photograph of a sidewalk may as well be a self-portrait of you or of me, and its beauty and wisdom abounds. The cracks that begin to appear on our faces are actually beauty marks, expressions of realizations that resolved stresses that we could not bear, and if we are willing to continually yield, and crack open, there is the potential for experiencing oneness – childlike wholeness – again. It is the mind that resists this transformation, this change in identity. What cracks open is the heart. In our relationships to one another, as well, the mind often cannot make the leap across chasms of beliefs between one person and even the ones we love. Only the heart, cracking open to a new self-definition, can make the leap and reunite two people whose minds have driven them apart.
Below is a gallery of sidewalks; we may read them as novels, short stories, poems, some charming, some childlike, some surreal, some painful, but now, all legible life stories. Perhaps this helps blur that illusory line between animate and inanimate. All things, in their own way, experience being. Awareness has no experiential blind spot.
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