Escape From Family

It seems to me that every country is like a school, and in every school there are certain lessons that we need to learn. As soon as you finish your learning in one school, you will be sent to another. America, I feel, is a school that teaches self-sufficiency. Everyone there is learning how to Take Care of Themselves. You really are forced to grow a backbone there, and I know tons of people who would benefit from a few years at that school. Italy, on the other hand, is a school for family: how to love and support each other but with freedom. I thought it was a lesser school, but lately I’ve changed my mind. Loving while leaving freedom is a Very High Teaching, and lots of us here are struggling with this course!

If you haven’t seen the movie Kubo, I highly recommend it. It’s about a young boy on a spiritual quest for knowledge and courage, but who has to stay constantly on the lookout for the evil spirits of his grandfather and aunts, who are trying to destroy him. And it put me on the lookout: Family can be The Biggest Obstacle on the spiritual path.

So I imagine a family man who finds a waterfall in the woods that purifies him and energizes him. He comes back to his family, to tell them all about it, and instead of listening to him, they try to convince him not to go there: “It’s dangerous,” they say. “No one from our family has gone there before.”

He notices that, every time he goes to the waterfall, he has a lot of love to give them. So he continues to sneak away and fill himself up, only to come back and share it with them. He gives up trying to convince them to come with him, but then something strange starts happening. The more he goes to the waterfall, the shinier and white he becomes. In contrast, he notices for the first time how gray his family is. They must sense this too, because they really start actively trying to block him from going to the waterfall. They give him twice as many tasks to do. They send him on fools’ errands.

It’s as if they want him to stay gray, like them.

And he doesn’t understand. Don’t they like the bright love he brings them from the waterfall? Why would they want him not to go? Then he understands.

They are afraid that if he becomes too bright, he won’t need them anymore.

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