While on my late evening stroll, I saw a little girl intently approaching a hole in the cobbled street with a stone in her hand. Settling down beside it, she started fitting the stone in the hole, thus attempting to make the surface smoother, bringing it to one level, completing it for the world to appreciate. It was an exercise, the stone was in no mood to comply but the little girl was insistent. She kept trying. There was a distinct nip in the air, I pulled my jacket closer and stood by the sidewalk – something about her focus had my full attention.
The little girl had identified something she wanted to spend her time on. She had identified something she wanted to fix. She was done with her day, had probably hopped and skipped with her girlfriends before her Mum called for supper, and then remembered this that needed work so she was out again.
The street was harmless, so was the problem she was trying to fix. The street probably didn’t know her, it was all accepting. The street was not flawless, it had given up the pursuit of perfection long back. The street took a different form for everyone. A puddle was a curse for those living the daily commute, yet something kids and their teeny boats were ever grateful for. The length suited the joggers perfectly, but it was perhaps a bit too long for the paper boy. Beggars employed the traffic to earn their living, and found home on something I merely used to walk on. The street had learned the art of being, thus allowing the world their freedom to thrive in the perceptions. It was their street to walk on – happiness was a choice.
Lost in the reverie, I was brought to the present when her efforts at street repair ceased. She stood up, as if resigning to the fact that the things might not be the way she had wished for, after all. Her keen eyes found me observing the activity, and she was unsure, so I smiled and started looking around. In that brief moment when our eyes had met, I could sense an unsettled little kid who is unable to understand why the perfect world cannot be built through sincere efforts. Despite trying, despite having the tool that fit and a heart in its right place, her perfect world couldn’t exist. Her eyes had slight despair, some anger and a whiff of newly developed indifference. Could she possibly start disliking her street just because it couldn’t comply to one of her many demands? The possibility was alarming.
I wondered if she would realize that the stone is probably not meant to be in that little space on her cobbled street. Things were perfect the way they were. We do not have to fix the outside world. We merely have to fix our perception of the outside world. That may mean accepting the grand old cobbled street with all its dust and cobbles and pebbles for what it is. In this acceptance, lies bliss. In this acceptance, lay her joy, currently lost, as she stood looking at her ‘imperfect’ world.
I started walking back home, mind wandering to a few issues I have been brooding on, the undesirable smudges on my perfect canvas. The little girl was still standing there, as I kept trudging along, two pieces of the same puzzle. Some things are easier said than done.