Monday, July 29, 2013

Wheat and Chaff

I am not sure where this train of thought is coming from. First talking about the crucible and the forge now thinking about the wheat and the chaff. It must be something we all do as we get older. Looking back at my life I can see certain moments when I thought I was in some really bad situations on a personal level. You could say I was lost in the chaff, the part of the wheat plant that is of little use. Then out of seemingly nowhere I would find a kernel of pure whole wheat. The substance that makes the flour which in turn becomes the bread, or pancakes, or cake, or so many other things.

Each one of these little nuggets could have been missed, ignored, or allowed to spoil, it depended on what I chose to do with them. Thankfully I was able to take most of them and turn them into experiences that enriched my life beyond measure. Usually these tidbits would come in the way of a comment made by someone. Not always someone that I thought very highly of. A couple of times they came from people I down right despised, but something made it through.

As far as I know there is no magical instrument that can glean these tiny little pieces of nutrition out for you. That is something you will have to find for yourself. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to be quiet. Especially when you are being reprimanded or just plain chewed out for something. Then when you can get past the emotion and think about what happened to get you in that situation, you can go over the information. Look at what was said by the person correcting you and be honest with yourself about it. Was the person correct in their assessment? If so what can you take away from the experience to avoid it in the future.

Every time life seems to be beating you down remember it is just the threshing floor, separating the wheat from the chaff. You can get lost in the chaff, or you  can take sometime to find the wheat. The choice is always yours. While you may not control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it.   

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crucible or Forge?

For years I thought of the Crucible as the formation of something. Instead the crucible is a container that is used to heat substances then hold them until they are ready to be poured into the mold. The Forge on the other hand is where metal is shaped and strengthened. While both are all about shaping the metal, it is the Forge that gives it strength.

What has any of this got to do with anything of importance? As humans we can make a choice as to how we allow life's circumstances affect us. I just recently dealt with one of those occasions. It was the anniversary of my daughter's death. Before we go any farther let me say, "this is not about gaining sympathy, it is what happened." I always feel that when I bring this up everyone wants to tell me how sorry they are and it gets uncomfortable. The only reason I bring it up is because it is what inspired this post and it is useful to explain the difference in the philosophical point I am hoping to make here.

This incident in my life started out as a crucible, the pain of it was almost paralyzing in the beginning as anyone can imagine. The heat of my emotions melted my heart into molten state. I felt strong emotions but they were constantly in turmoil and easily changed by the container they were in. Jobs lost interest, love affairs were constantly coming and going. With every new experience came a new emotional container for those molten feelings. But they never quite took solid form. When they began to cool down, it was time to change the shape of the crucible, by heating everything up and pouring it into a new container.

It was many years after that event that I began to find the mold I wanted those emotions shaped into. I found a career that I have enjoyed and a family that I love. Once my emotions cooled in the mold, they were then put back into the fire and heated up. When everything was glowing as bright as possible they were put on the anvil and beaten into shape, just before they reached the breaking point it was time for the ice. It wasn't the crucible that gave me strength, it was the forge. Before I could become the person I wanted to be, I had be malleable first then tempered in the forge. Remembering the lessons I learned in the Army and in Jump School helped, once I chose to be in the forge I had the choice of letting it make me stronger or letting it break me completely. Neither course is easy to take but the crucible is not meant to make you stronger, it just the beginning, a time to find the mold you want for your life, it is the forge that makes the difference.