Hidden Meaning

Hidden Meaning — Just beneath the surface, beyond blocks, games, and evasions, is you, waiting to come out and play. Now is the time, here is the place.

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beneath the surface

So, a weird admission. I actually scrubbed an article this week. Wrote it, added photos, formatted it, and put it online for distribution, and woke up this morning and thought, “Hmm. Odd article.”

I decided I needed a re-write

As I was standing in the kitchen, sipping the first coffee of the day, I looked out the window, and saw the blob next door. Actually, my next door neighbour is quite attractive—I’m referring to the snowman on the lawn. No. really. It’s a snowman. I guess.

I will admit that it was taller when the kids built it a few weeks ago, but it was never more “snowman-like.” It’s always been amorphous.

Amorphous: (1. lacking definite form; having no specific shape; formless: the amorphous clouds. 2. of no particular kind or character; indeterminate; having no pattern or structure; unorganized: an amorphous style; an amorphous personality.)

That snowman mirrors our world. Thoreau had it, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Our world suffers from a lack of meaning, and that in turn comes from most folk choosing to blend in, shrink down, duck their heads, and to not make waves. It’s almost as if most have decided that they will put in time until something else comes along, and then, maybe, they’ll choose to have a life. And what shows up is death, and whatever “might have been” fades to black.

Options: Standing Back, Standing Out, Standing Forth

Standing Back—It’s a state of retreat, of hiding, melting, blending in. It appears to be a condition of fear and repression. Of tightness, and an unwillingness to be “seen.”

Standing Out—Some seek to be seen, but not to be real. They want to be popular. To be noticed. To be “special.” It’s an artifice, albeit an attractive one.

Standing Forth—the road less travelled. This is what happens when you define your edges, loosen your boundaries, and take the risk of being yourself.

The way out: Invulnerable Vulnerability

As I’ve suggested over the last few articles, talents, skills, creativity—it’s all about letting it out. There’s a Zen example of a glass of muddy water. The pure water is right there, and the mud obscures it. When we filter out the mud, we do not think that we created the clear water out of nothing. We see that is was right there, all along, buried under the “obstruction.”

We find ourselves through such filtering


We look, and see beneath the surface. Beneath the pat answers, beneath the social masks we erect to keep the world at bay, we find the truth of ourselves. In a sense, this is opening ourselves to ourselves, and sharing the results with others.

As we open, we begin to see through the games we’ve been playing. Many are the distractions used to avoid this opening. Clients go through lists of fears, wondering who they will be if they stop the games, wondering how people will regard them if they stop playing along. Lately, a common theme is the sudden discovery of underlying, unexpressed feelings.

Oh those feelings

People use all sorts of gimmicks to avoid feeling. The drug, alcohol and food industries are all built upon the premise that one can divert attention from the feelings by over-indulging. Each consumption briefly fills the body with something distracting. Do it often enough and you can cover over the emptiness and the pain.

Others use relating games: sex is often used as a way to avoid feeling, oddly enough. As are fighting, blaming, boring yourself, or purposely picking people to be with who will conspire with you to stay stuck.

Others focus on one feeling, and express only it. Anger and sadness are popular diversions that cover over bigger things, like fear of meaninglessness, fear of death, self doubt, etc.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people who refuse to act until they get a guaranteed outcome. Or who create distractions—piles of stuff—to wade through first. I remember one mom who wanted to learn to communicate with her teen-aged son. For 3 years she studied communication. I asked her how it was going. “Oh, I haven’t talked with him yet. I still have to learn how to.”



In yoga, there is a restorative pose called Supta Baddha Konasana. (That translates to bound ankle pose.) As you can see from the picture, it’s a wide-open resting pose. You tuck a bolster under your back, which opens the heart, and your knees are out to the side, feet drawn up. It’s pretty much as wide open as a body can be, and it’s a perfect metaphor for living life by being open to it.

The life we have is all there is

We work with what is right in front of us, and we work with ourselves. There’s no “someday” when suddenly there will be somewhere and someone else to work on. There’s just “this, now.”

We start here, we start with us, and we open ourselves to ourselves. No games, evasions, shutting down. As we open, we allow our feelings to arise, to be observed and acted out, and we let them go. As urges and directions occur, we act on them, and let the results go.

We commit to getting out of our own way. Repeatedly. As we notice a retreat into our stories, we come back to “here,” through breath, through touch, through openness. As we notice a reluctance to act, we acknowledge it, and we act.

Because who we are and how we are is all there is, for each of us.

I leave you with another photo of the snow-blob.

I shot the top photo from the kitchen, the one below, from outside—from a different angle.

the face

Please notice the almost perfectly constructed face, there by accident or design.

Right under the surface. All one has to do is shift perspective, and choose to look.

Think about what lies beneath your own games and evasions. Reflect upon what you are refusing to deal with, what you are avoiding doing and being. Look deeply into a mirror, and imagine you can see beneath the self-stirred mud, to the clarity of the “water” flowing just below the surface.

Uncross your eyes (!) open your body, your mind, your spirit, and take in a full breath. If you aren’t you, who will be?

And if not now, when???

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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