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August 8th, 2018
Occasionally, when we wish to highlight how special or unique something is, we say that the mold broke.
“They broke the mold when they made you.”
A mold is used to create the same thing in a uniform way, over and over and over. Breaking the mold means we must start from scratch and create something new.
But the phrase connotes something innate. Something that came before someone’s eyes popped open for the first time. And this is not as useful as it could be.
Many aspects of our lives and the systems which govern our days work like a mold. We are molded by school to expect waking up early in the morning to then commute to some building where we are expected to do work for a good portion of the day. The habitual practice of school molds us to conform to the daily 9-5 jobs that generally come after schooling. Our behavior is not just the thing being molded by these systems and practices. As with any behavior, it is rooted in our thought. The environment that surrounds us and the systems it makes up molds the way we think to a large extent.
And much of this ‘molding’ is dissatisfying, and even depressing.
We may bemoan the fact that whoever made us before our eyes popped open didn’t break the mold so that we could be different and special in some admirable way….
Or we could look at all the aspects of our life that is trying to mold us. Into a certain person. Who does a certain set of things. And we could wonder: how do I break this mold?
A walk down any old shady sidewalk can give us a lesson in breaking the mold.
It’s easy to trip on such sidewalks because if a tree is nearby, chances are one of its roots has pushed the sidewalk up and cracked it. Most all of us have had this experience.
But has anyone actually ever seen the sidewalk crack in this way?
No, and it’s because of how slowly, but consistently the tree grows.
With a constant pressure, and constant growing, the living flesh of a tree cracks stone and rock.
While it would be faster to take the proverbial sledgehammer to one’s life in order to crack up all the things that are molding us in ways we don’t like - in the same way we can FIREBOMB OUR LIFE, the tree root provides a bit more precision, if we are willing to be consistent and have patience.
If, for example, someone is dissatisfied with their 9-5 existence, simply quitting solves the problem immediately, but not for the long-term. On the other hand, if such a person were to spend a little bit of every evening and the weekends planning something new, say a business, then slowly, with consistent work, and growth, such a person can crack through that job-mold.
Our own thinking is a sort of mold for our daily behavior.
And if our daily behavior has lead us to a dissatisfying place, then we’ve got to address what’s molding that behavior. Often what's needed is a question. THE RIGHT QUESTION can crack an opinion in two and leave us in a much more interesting space where we must come up with a better thought, a better mold, and that will begin to change the way we behave.