A couple weeks ago, I walked down my street and was surprised to see a neighbor’s house being torn down. I was struck by just how quickly a house goes down, since it takes so long to build one. I was also caught off guard by just how much material that could have been recycled was instead being tossed into the multiple dumptrucks that cycled through. The entire house was gone by midday, leaving a giant crater in the lot where it once stood. A brand new house will take its place sometime in the near future.
Sometimes, when we are fed up with our lives, we may also want to do a “scrape-off” and just dump everything, and start all over again. When feeling like this, it is very difficult to see what there is that is worth keeping, so it is easier to picture leaving it all behind. Sometimes, we actually do things that are close approximations to the scrape-off. Maybe we move to another state, or country. Maybe we break off a relationship, or quit a job. Eventually, the same issues we thought we’d fixed, magically show up in that new home, new relationship, new job.
We can’t just toss ourselves out, as much as we may want to. When we are this frustrated with ourselves, we are in the most need of our own attention. To try to do the scrape-off is to abandon ourselves in our greatest time of need, and being abandoned may be familiar to us. It may be difficult, but we can learn to sit still when we are tempted to run, and find just what it is that is worth keeping in our lives. Rather than trying to remove everything that bothers us, we can sort through the messy feelings to find something in ourselves that we like, that we want to keep, that feeds us. When we breathe life into this part of ourselves, we strengthen the foundation of a life that we can savor.

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