I don’t understand it. Never have—my fascination with spiritual stuff. But I’m not so much interested in a god or gods and goddesses, but more the notion that there is “something” out there “somewhere” that is so much larger than we can imagine, and is capable of…well, just about anything you can imagine: destroying all the dinosaurs by tossing a pebble at the planet; shape-shifting itself into a swan and molesting a beautiful mortal; forcing one man to believe a flood is coming and loading two of everything onto a big reed boat; or, getting jealous, lopping off the head of his son, bringing the son back to life, and attaching to the boy’s body the head of an elephant in place of the boy’s ruined head; or, creating new stars in a place called The Pillars of Creation.
When I travel, I am likely to buy a souvenir of the trip. If I’m travelling for a long period, say two to six months or so, whatever I buy necessarily will be fairly small and light weight; small enough to fit in my bag, and light enough to haul around. However, for many years, I had been looking at and coveting, and pricing, large statues: wood, metal, stone. I wanted one to put outside in my garden. But I had no garden, and no stationary home. Still, I looked.
On one trip, I found a statue of Ganesha that was so uniquely different than any other statue I’d seen of him, much different than the traditional style, I fell instantly in love with it. It was carved from sandstone, so it was heavy. I mean real heavy. Heavy and fragile, perhaps like many gods. And too large for my pack. It took me a month of back-and-forth, trying to decide (I have trouble making decisions, especially on large purchases), but one day, I woke up listening to my gut. I went to the sculptor’s studio and paid cash for that slab of stone, and shipped it home by boat. This is actually a very long story (which I’ll share another time).
Long story short (and spoiler for that long story): when I pried open the box and unwrapped the statue, I was horrified. Heart sick. Depressed. Shattered. They—the “professional” packers—had put the statue in a wooden crate and wrapped it in one layer of bubble wrap. One. Layer. Lord Ganesha was chipped in numerous places, both tusks were snapped off. His right hand was lying at his feet inside the one sheet of bubble wrap and surrounded by pieces of chipped stone. The toes on his left foot were chipped (and his toes are one of the greatest features on this statue, so nicely designed). In the pantheon of Hindu gods, Lord Ganesha is the lord of prosperity, fortune and success, the lord of beginnings and remover of obstacles. But apparently, unable to protect himself from a crate packer just learning his trade.
I glued one tusk back on, couldn’t bring myself to glue the other one on because the first one just didn’t look right. In the Ganesha myth, he has one broken tusk (part of that longer story I’m not telling now), so I’m figuring, fine, that’s his broken tusk. I glued his hand back on and covered the area with a couple of spiritual bracelets. I covered his chipped toes with a few tassels from the prayer beads I hung on him.
In many spiritual texts, you might find some advice telling you to find peace in things. And maybe that one way to find peace in things is by accepting what is, and to make the most of what is. A rose is yellow, not red. It’s raining on the day you planned a walk on the beach. The grocery store is out of lemons, make lime juice smoothies. And nothing is perfect. Unless you believe everything is perfect.
I have been aware of this concept for years, decades really. I understand this concept. I have practiced this concept. When something doesn’t go the way I planned, I try to find the positive side of things. When I look at my stone statue of Ganesha, I accept that it is what it is. The right hand seems fine, but I know there’s a flaw at the wrist. The left tusk looks okay from a distance, but the seam reveals a gap in the stone, where glued together, when you approach closer. The right tusk remains unrepaired, displaying the uneven break. All easy enough to overlook. But you know something is not right with the gods.
I try to imagine this is the way it is supposed to be. I’d like to say I have accepted things as they are. I can love that statue for what it is. Most days, I can imagine that I believe that I have grown spiritually and may be a little further along toward Enlightenment on a scale from 1 to 10.
But on other days, I look at Ganesha—and I’m sorry to report—I’m disappointed. I’m apparently stuck somewhere in my lowest chakra, the muladhara chakra, possibly huddling around a .5 on the scale of Enlightenment growth. Whatever that great “something” out there is, it must be disappointed in me. Because I admit: I have not quite totally accepted things as they are with Lord Ganesha. Sometimes, perhaps, even though you know it may have flaws, you just want to believe your god is perfect.
You can find more Photo Challenge photos here: Broken
Also posted in Photo Rehab