There are two parallels in life that harness the chaotic power of destruction.
One is not chosen; it’s like life chooses to destroy us.
Life breaks relationships we thought were destined to be. It upturns tables. It flips the script. It unearths fossils from a troubling past and pushes wind into our sails like a cataclysmic storm, tossing our vessel into foreign waters.
But the power of that “unchosen” destruction is not in its remarkable force, or the terrifying reality that we have such little control of our lives.
The power of that unchosen destruction is recognizing that it is not life victimizing us; but that it is a force for good.
It is a force for forgetting.
Unchosen destruction is a life-force, maybe an act of God or Spirit or Universal Knowing. And I believe that such unchosen destruction is a way of life for us all because the nature of our egoic minds needs to be forced to forget.
To unfurl the banners of label like name and religion, nationality and opinion.
To raze the houses we’ve built that insulate us from the world we’ve been put here to truly live in; not distance ourselves from. In God Whispers on the Wind, I call this unchosen destruction, “The Forceful Forget”:
Unchosen Destruction and Chosen Destruction
I mentioned two parallels of destruction to open this essay. The first is unchosen destruction, or the forceful forget. The second is chosen destruction.
But the destruction that we choose to embody is neither of flesh nor property; choosing destruction is not a matter of seeking out violence, chaos, argument, clashes or violent undoings.
Chosen destruction is choosing to destroy what we know.
Or, rather, what we think we know.
Chosen destruction is unrooting what we assume, questioning what we see; scanning for depth and connection amongst shallowness and surface-level appearances. Chosen destruction is an inner battle. It’s an ego-versus-heart battle for soulful supremacy: the ego-mind compartmentalizes, it “convenience-isizes,” assumes, expects, worries, fears, judges, hates.
The heart undoes, expands, understands, forgives, learns, opens, grows.
But our souls know that we are better for that blood we shed.
We choose to destroy what we know not because it’s easy, but because the longevity of our spirits depend upon it for expansion, flourishing, survival.
Artists and creatives feel repulsed by a previous work they once loved.
I recall a story described by Steven Pressfield in War of Art (or perhaps Turning Pro) that Picasso once presented a gallery owner in Spain with a collection of his paintings. The gallery owner was elated with his work, and yet Picasso, upon reviewing them, felt the overwhelming need to destroy what he knew that he took up a knife and slashed every canvas — the gallery owner imploring him with terror and confusion to stop.
What of gratitude, though?
How can we destroy what we know and still remain grateful for anything?
Because this level of gratitude is not in the appreciation of things, of experience and knowledge or accumulation and fame or wealth and followers.
This level of gratitude — gratitude for destruction — dawns in our appreciation of the finiteness of life, it’s shortness, in the humbling reality of the nature of all life and the liberating power of detachment.
We remain ever grateful as willful destroyers because in destroying what we know, we remind ourselves that all things — even our lives — will end.
But, by our hand, with gratitude and destruction, we can invent and reinvent, activate and innovate, engage and create.
Through this means of creative exploration, we begin to dictate a pace of growth and learning — not as victims of life’s destruction, but as willful architects of it.