(The Shard is an 87 storey skyscraper in London reaching the height of over 1000 ft. It is currently the tallest building in Europe. It has over 70 habitable floors but also sports a viewing gallery at its top. It is located near London Bridge station where I pass almost daily when in town).
As I was passing the impressively high Shard building in London Bridge, I instantly looked at the very top, immersing myself in its majestic height and trying to see if I could distinguish any little human figures in the top floors where a viewing gallery had been opened a few months before.
Then my gaze lowered to the middle floors, where the tower was strong and wide, but also appeared to be empty. Newly-built, the Shard housed a very talked-about viewing point at its top, but did not seem to have yet found the rightful owners of the mid and lower levels.
Behind the blewish windows, nothing seemed to exist. Like a dark interior to a very large labyrinth of a place. A sudden sense of mystery enveloped the child’s mind in me as I imagined getting lost in that maze, all alone, wandering each floor in the endless pursuit of the exit. Such a journey on foot would surely take a lifetime…
And then it got me thinking at how our lives, in many ways, were not entirely dissimilar to such an aimless wander, in what seemed to be a constant search of a mysterious “door” to a more real, much talked about but somehow intangible world. Somewhere we’ve heard of, but have not yet attained. Call it the pursuit of happiness, nirvana, fulfilment, enlightenment or just something better, something different.
There seem to be three realities associated with this state of mind:
*Not knowing that we are in a tall and ever-expanding Shard which, although impressive and seemingly endless, contains an exit door to a whole new world
*Realising that we are indeed in the pleasant clutches of a self-contained glass sardine can, but deciding that this is not that bad, because the view is good, the amenities sufficient and the foundations strong and solid
*Realising where we are, but also wanting to now explore the other side, therefore getting up and energetically setting off to find the door to this mysterious and alluring “other place”, in this example – a door quite possibly miles away in a dark place indeed.
But however much exciting it may be to hop from one floor to the next, enjoy the view from different angles and come to know so many new things that our previous perspective may not have allowed, we soon realise that not only are we no closer to “the mysterious outside”, but we have now also grasped the magnitude of this whole place and are slowly acknowledging that we may not, at least in this lifetime, have the time or energy to find what we are seeking.
And so we settle, perhaps on a different floor, where the view appeals to us more, where we feel different and special, for a while at least. We may stay there, or move again, or spring up in the autumn of our lives and give the search one last try… We may be happy, or feel that something is still missing…
But I would like to think that there is fourth choice to the keen pursuer of “the other” – what if we got hold of the blueprint of our imaginary Shard? What if we managed to study its structure, channel our curiosity on the patient and quiet contemplation of the whole construction of the place and slowly figured out that all the wanderings we have done could never replace intimate knowledge of the bigger picture.
Then maybe we can simply calm down, because we know where we stand and therefore all action – each step – become purposeful.
I most certainly don’t hold that precious blueprint, but feel that I am slowly getting to know the structure around me, building up the picture of where I stand. Some of the main tools which help me to see clearer as I march ahead can be summed up as such:
*Reduce the clutter (around you and inside you)
*Be positive (and surround yourself with positive influences)
*Meditate (or walk, or swim or stare are little bunny rabbits)
*Identify your values and passions and live with the latter as your guiding lights
As we march on, all of us, into an unknown future, of course we will stumble. But I sincerely think that a purposeful and mindful trot will inevitably reach its goal more rapidly than the mad and unexamined dash to the finish line.
Here is one last look at our own little walk through beautiful Spain, I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we loved being on it.