I rolled my eyes. I rarely pay attention to this sage dragon of my clan because, well, he is also crazy. More than me. That's saying something. But I was in the search of some light for my darkness and something deep inside forced me to stay put.
"Imagine each of your problems is like a tree. You see your problems all huge, so it must be a huge tree. You have many problems so imagine a forest. Close your eyes and see this big forest of gigantic trees, like sequoias. No matter where you look, you see trees. You can't see where the forest starts or where it ends. You can barely see the top of the trees. You want to solve your problems but you have no idea where to start. And there it is, the overwhelming feeling that you're lost with problems everywhere."
I sighed. My burdened heart made the sequoia forest very easy to imagine. Yes, huge trees, an endless forest that had no end or beginning. There was no horizon or sky to fly to. No matter where I looked, there were just sequoias one after the other, giving me a sense of claustrophobia and helplessness. This angered me.
How can he say he doesn't have problems? I thought opening my eyes. I know him. I know his life and there are sequoias there too. He does have problems. He is just in denial. Why am I even listening?
"You may think I'm an arrogant or a liar when I say I don't have problems. It's not that. What you see as problems, I see them as challenges. It's different."
Something clicked within my brain. Of course is different. It's all the difference in the world. Problems intimidate me. They glare at my flaws, my ignorance, and my ineptitude. Challenges trigger a different response. They entice my pride to try harder, to overcome them, to prove I can learn, I can grow, I can be greater than them.
"Life is whatever you make of it," he said. "It being easy or difficult does not depend on your surrounding circumstances. It depends on your own perception."
I had to agree. A problem being big or small is subjective to each person's perception. I have a health problem that affects my appearance. Right now it's the least of my concerns. When I was young I wanted to die because of it. And it's the same problem. It's my perception that made it an insurmountable or insignificant problem. Understanding brought light and chased most of the darkness away.
Okay, let's make a truce and hear him out. He's on to something for once. Something I need to hear badly . "Point taken. I can do it. I can see the sequoias as challenges. Makes me feel better already, but I still don't know where to begin. There are so many..."
"It doesn't matter where you start. Choose one, anyone. The one that is bugging you the most."
"They all bug me," I grumbled. "Everything bugs me!"
"Choose one. Just one. No one can climb many trees at the same time. Try. Maybe you are one of those who need to fall on their butt several times to learn the lesson. Focus on one goal until you achieve it. Then go to the next. Achieve it and move on. Try many at the same time, you'll burn out. The energy requirement will overwhelm you and you'll quit. Sequoias will still be there and you will remain lost."
I bet the expression on my face was like the child that is told he has to eat the vegetables or there will be no ice-cream. I could almost hear the Aaargh! All right, coming from every brain cell in my dragon head.
I left the Crazy Sage Dragon's lair preparing myself mentally for my forest. Zero problems. There are only challenges. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Only one sequoia at the time. It's all matter of perception. I think some have gone thinner... and smaller...
The Crazy Sage Dragon recommended a movie to me a while ago. It was a coincidence I caught it on TV last weekend, after our chat. There was something that echoed all the way to my soul.
"In order to understand (great knowledge), you first have to make it yours. You have to believe in it with all your heart. Then, you have to go out and try to explain it to others. It's only during this process that you will start to unveil its deepest meaning."