The Thai Buddha Sculpture
In a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand, is a statue of a buddha that weighs over 5.5 tons and is nearly 10 feet tall from the tip of its pointed headpiece to the bottom of its folded legs. It is thought to date back to the 13th or 14th century. In 1955, the statue was rigged to be moved to a new location on the grounds of the Buddhist monastery where it was displayed.
The rigging failed. The statue fell. The plaster exterior, painted and inlaid with glass and mirror, fractured.
Can you imagine the knot in the stomachs of those tasked with the wellbeing of this ancient sculpture? Around it they gathered to inspect the damage, monks and construction workers alike, and much to their astonishment, what they found as they shone their flashlights into the various fissures was not more plaster, not structure.
What they found was gold.
Carefully, thoughtfully, the plaster was removed, revealing 5.5 tons of 18 karat gold.
Historians theorized that the plaster was applied during the 18th century to protect the preciousness of the sculpture from an invading army.
And so it is with us.
We’re born these shining, whole beings. When we are babies and we’re hungry, we cry. We’re not self-conscious about it; we don’t feel guilty for inconveniencing anyone. We just express ourselves. We’re not abashed at finding joy in the discovery of our own feet; we’re not embarrassed at our failures to communicate before we shape our first dictionary-compliant word. We just are.
Almost immediately, we began instinctively making the trade that we all have made, each and every one of us: We have all traded the full expression of ourselves for emotional safety. We traded knowingness within ourselves for knowledge of the world. We plastered over our shining golden center to protect our preciousness.
And, friend, that was not a bad decision at the time. We must live in this world, even with its imperfections. We must navigate our families until we’re able to support ourselves and because our families are made up of imperfect people, the travels with them are also imperfect. Whether your family was of the functional-yet-quirky variety or full-on dysfunctional, not a one of us walks away without some scars.
Now, though, you’re in less need of the plaster. Unlike your child self, you have more tools and resources to protect your emotional self without dulling your own shine. Coaching is the process of chipping away the plaster – carefully, thoughtfully – by shifting your thinking, unearthing and building upon your tools and resources, and uncovering the part of yourself that is and always has been the foremost expert of your own life.
You do not need to be created or built. You are not broken or incomplete. What you do have, friend, is some plaster blocking your shine, and coaching is a chisel, brush, and burnishing cloth rolled into one.
Should we talk?
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Here’s the latest from the blog.
Our memories are also prone to our fully human imperfection.
Those who believe that, and those who see a far greater complexity.
Certainty is comfy… and misleading. Curiosity is the antidote and the way forward.