Polished to Perfection

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” – Seneca

While I am not so sure that our trials in life are deliberately imposed upon us as a test of our character or will intentionally by another being or entity, I have witnessed time and time again that the mechanism which translates inner perfection and original thought into outer manifestation is forged in the fiery furnace called life. The mechanism of which I speak is composed of a number of raw materials, including character, ideology, choice, predilection, and instinct, some of which are provided by nature, others are nurtured into form.

The world we have at any given point in time is a complex mixture of the result of man’s decision-making and activities and nature’s constantly adjusting balance. Whether you espouse Creationism or a more scientific view of he origins of life on earth, it is clear that life on earth involves navigating and making sense of a complex web of interrelationships, some within our scope of control and influence and others beyond it.

Human beings are notorious for holding contradictory beliefs in heart and mind. Born of life experience, the interpretation of personal and historical events and a peppering of less tangible but just as meaningful philosophies on life, the contradictions both fuel his inquiry into a unifying theory of truth and cause him tremendous discomfort and unrelieved tension, both consciously and subconsciously.

The founding fathers of our Great Nation, for example, held as dear tenets from the conflicting yet related ideologies of Classical Republicanism and Liberalism. Business leaders nowadays call for less regulation and interference from government, all the while freely taking government handouts, bailouts and support.

Humanity wrestles with these conflicts constantly. They churn in the back of the mind and condition every decision he made in the name of progress and living. You are made whole to the degree that you are free of internal conflict. It was said that “[N]o man can serve two masters” for good reason. These conflicts have proven to be both the stuff of so-called human progress and the reason why life – despite the obvious cosmetic or superficial changes – has remained so remarkably static over time. This is the reason why so many have observed that “there is nothing new under the sun.”

The decisions made by every independent agent in the body of humanity contribute to the formation of the present reality, in any given moment. As I mentioned, the natural world adjusts, adapts and compensates in ways that a balance can be maintained and life sustained, and the sum total of this activity is what forms the world as we know it. The power that animates the various combinations of raw materials which are combined in various levels of complexity (e.g. single celled organisms on up to the incredibly complex ecosystem we share) is not possessed by mankind, instead, we are its steward.

How we steward that power determines in large measure the quality, scope and durability of the impression made during our time on earth, for better or for worse. That power moves through the mechanism of translation provided by our capacities for its expression, and to the degree that you have well-develop character, an intimate relationship with virtue and an unwavering concern to be a blessing, that power has a purifying and harmonizing effect on the world around you.

6 thoughts on “Polished to Perfection

  1. Duffer

    Having an “unwavering concern to be a blessing” is such a strong starting point in all that we do isn’t it! It is the striving for perfection in this area of our lives that will truly allow us to effectively steward the power that is our gift.


  2. Lady Leo

    I heard something the other day that went like this…What happens to us can either grind us down or shape us like water over rocks.
    I’ll remember that because it conveys the power of the circumstances in our lives and that the result is changed by how it’s viewed. Do I think the events in my life wear me down or shape me? Am I part of this mechanism or am I at the mercy of it?
    Beautiful post. Words to live by and grow with, thanks.


  3. Colin

    There are so many things that we have no control over, but my goal is to handle the things that we do have control over with balance and grace. I definetly have not reached the point where I can say I do this consistently, but I have made progress. The thing that keeps me going is what you described as the complex ecosystem we steward. I feel we have a responsibility to take care of the things around us, and to leave things better than we found them. So with that in mind I say let’s keep moving forward.


    1. Brad

      I agree Colin, we are stewards and I too feel a deep responsibility to care for AND improve the things around me. As a father of 3 growing boys the have more of an inclination to mimick my actions than follow my “instructions” – they are watching, the youngest particularly is like a parroting shadow of whoever he is around – cute is some ways, alarming in others.
      As Gregg has so poingnantly noted time and time again, the change needs to start with each of us taking an inventory of our thoughts words and deeds – this is where we begin the process of change.
      So let’s keep moving forward


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