A balanced individual lives from a sense of all-sidedness that allows for an open approach to interacting with the world. An all-sided person bends like the bamboo in the storm but finds one’s strength in flexibility.

All-Sidedness in Flexibility of Mind and Body
Artwork by Andrew Hem

In the Gurdjieff esoteric tradition, humans want to strive to have “all-sidedness” in various situations in their lives. It is the ability to be flexible, to be able to adjust to any situation. It is the opposite of “one-sidedness” where one is fixed and rigid in perspective and actions. The more inflexible one becomes, the closer he/she is to emotional and physical death.

I understand that all-sidedness involves interacting with oneself and the world without any of the trappings of the ego and the mind’s grasping at how things should be. Unfortunately, I find myself wishing to be more all-sided in hindsight. I self-remember the wish to be all-sided after I have noticed my incredible stubbornness.

This came up strongly for me while visiting my family. They say when you cross the threshold of your parents, you immediately begin to regress to childish behavior. I kept nagging at my mother because I was worried about her arthritic hands and then became testy when she asked me to leave her alone. Funny how we think we are showing care and kindness through harsh words and threats.

While traveling in the Northwest, I would get upset that the motel did not have a coffee pot for me to make my green tea. Does drinking green tea make or break my sense of well-being? Only if I make it so.

It is too easy to forget that we are responsible for our choices and therefore the effects of them. I found myself complaining about breaking out in pimples when I kept choosing easy and junky snacks on the road.

All-Sidedness in Flexibility of Mind and Body
Artwork by Andrew Hem

So far, we have traveled from Seattle to Northern Idaho where the snow painted the landscape white against the dark green of the evergreen trees. We woke up to glistening icicles on the weeping willow at the farmhouse.

It was bitterly cold compared to Maryland and definitely frosty compared to Hawaii. But my son loved looking out the window to see the winter landscape and point out the trees and small animals. He woke up cooing and babbling in the morning chill. His hands pressed against the large glass window as he looked at the deer eating the alfalfa the family had put out.

He naps deeply about three hours after he wakes up. He does this without fail no matter where we are. I was watching him sleep so soundly in the late morning. He is totally at rest and comfortable despite sleeping in three different beds in the last week. His meals are enjoyed no matter how much they change. He does not complain about the cold but lets us know when he is uncomfortable.

While witnessing his deep breathing, I realized that he exudes all-sidedness. He adapts and is immersed in the present moment and situation. I have heard of babies that cannot sleep or function when their routine or setting is changed. I am grateful for his ability to take in what is before him while still maintaining his center. His sense of being is very present and accepting without compromising his true needs. He does not compare where we are right now to where he has been. That is why he can be anywhere and be home.

Challenge Genie praises the evocative artwork of Andrew Hem. Please support his work and find more art here.

Tagged on:                         

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *