The Left end of the Stick

I read a book yesterday.  Well. I read two books yesterday. (Come on–what else does one do on a car trip, when one doesn’t have to drive?)

The first was Cold Cereal, by Adam Rex, and it was actually pretty funny. If you don’t mind small children who can turn villains’ heads into flower pots.  The second was Touching Spirit Bear, by  Ben Mikaelsen. The resolution was a bit far-fetched for me, but the view into the psyche of a severely disturbed teenager was fascinating.

Don’t read it if you have a weak stomach about eating live vermin or three-day-old vomit.

Anyway. There’s this Indian elder who helps said teenager deal with his anger. He gives the boy a long branch and asks him to break off the left end of the stick–and then he gets after him because no matter how many times he breaks it, the left end  is still there.

The point of the demonstration–at least, my interpretation of it–is that there are elements to our nature that are eternal. No matter how violently we attempt to part with who we are–well, there we still are. We can get frustrated and focus obsessively on the left end of the stick, or we can turn our focus elsewhere. Because a stick always has two ends. We can put it to good use, or we can destroy it, piece by vengefully-broken piece.

It’s a beautiful metaphor–you can feel yourself going all sorts of places with it, already, can’t you?

2 responses to “The Left end of the Stick

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