Hello. I wrote this more than a year ago but it's been in my head since I was nobbut a bairn. Recently it's been very real to me; in fact I start taking a metaphor further and further and I've started describing how I feel to a friend in terms of carpets - threadbare, or deep pile, and so on...this is what I mean:
Updated from 20 January 2011
Here's this thing that I thought up when I was little, and I still love it today. It comes to mind so often that I've had chance to colour it in and embroider it many times over the years.
Last night at home group we discussed how we saw life; a rollercoaster, a journey, a test...and so on. I wasn't sure I had a picture of what life is like, but I was fascinated by other people's ideas. It seems that so many of us think in metaphors. It came to me much later yesterday evening when we'd changed subject that I did have an idea, and it was the one that'd been with me since I was small. I didn't immediately realise it because it's been part of the texture of life for so long.
It's this: life is like kicking a carpet. Bear with me.
There's this roll of carpet - only about two or three feet wide, sort of like a stair carpet, that I unroll ahead of me as I walk along. Everyone has one. There's some artistic licence here as the carpet never gets any smaller and doesn't start out that big, it sort of magically unrolls in front of me in a CGI sort of way. I do have to put some effort in but it's not actually as hard as actually kicking an actual carpet, if you see what I mean. How hard it is seems to vary a bit. I've had a go at unrolling carpet in my house once or twice and it's not like that. It comes naturally. It's living.
I suppose you think I'm off my rocker. Still, I shall press on...
|Life is a carpet|
Just got to unroll it
So this carpet has a pattern and everyone's pattern is different - my own is very familiar, even when the pattern changes as it does at different times in life. Sometimes it's a brightly coloured, cheerful, intricate pattern, and at other times it's dull, muted, made of dark colours or plain with blocks of different shades. Sometimes it even has strands of gold and silver in it, like shining threads. Sometimes the pattern has a symmetry, sometimes it's muddled up and abstract. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. Likewise the weave of the carpet varies - for a time it's thick, lush and rich in it's pile, and then later worn, threadbare, sparse. Smooth and then knobbly. Silky and bristly. Sometimes my toes luxuriate in the softness and warmth and other times it hurts my feet. As I go through life the carpet changes from day to day, hour to hour, and yet I keep going, kicking it along in front of me. I can do this without breaking stride.
There are times when I'm running, even dancing along, full of songs and laughter, and the carpet is unrolling effortlessly. Other times when I'm plodding, trudging with my head down watching the way the tears make little dark marks as I walk, and those times keeping it moving in front of me seems almost impossible, but I carry on. I can never see where I'm going; it's as if I'm unrolling my carpet through space - three dimensional space, where there are ups and downs - uphills and downhills. Bits of the journey are brightly lit and other bits so shadowy that I can barely make out the shape of my feet on my carpet.
The destination is unknown but I keep walking towards it. There's no stopping; there's no choice. Keep going, keep going.
It will be worth it when I get there.
The interesting thing is that I'm not alone during this walk - I can see other people unrolling their carpets, too. Everyone in the world has a carpet. Some are in the distance - a long long way away, and they're obscured, blurry - I can't see much of their carpet so I don't know what colours or patterns they have; I just get a glimpse. These are the people who I might encounter for a brief moment. Sitting on a train whooshing past and then I glimpse someone walking their dog in a field beside the track. Driving past someone in a window of a house. They're the people who come in to view for a second and then they're out of sight. I see a stranger and wonder about their life - who are they? What are they worried about? Are they happy? Their carpet comes near mine just for a moment and then they're gone and I never know. Other people come alongside for a while - they walk alongside me for a time, or we meet and we overlap, and then they're gone in a different direction. Sometimes I see the same person back again. Sometimes I know that I've seen them before but can't place where...
Then in this journey I'm on, one or two people kick their carpets along with me. They're alongside, and they stay there. Their carpet is so close that the edges of theirs and mine touch - sometimes they're so close that the edges wrinkle up against each other making a ridge. But there might be a special person whose carpet fits mine perfectly. You're pretty much in step. The weave and pattern on the carpets side by side are synchronised with each other. Sometimes you can't tell where your carpet ends and theirs starts, and sometimes they look very different. Sometimes they leave me behind and I struggle to catch up, and sometimes they're dawdling when I want to skip. But they're parallel with me.
There's a special sort of blessing in a carpet buddy. Because their carpet looks and feels so much like mine communication is easy. There's an understanding. They look down and see what I see. They know when the going is heavy and when I'm flying. It's as if they can reach across to me and help me with the weight of my carpet as I unroll it. They can point out the finest of bright threads in the weave when I can see only darkness. Sometimes their presence alongside me brings light to show me there's beauty in the pattern when I've been unable to see. A carpet buddy is a very special gift. Thankyou so much for mine.
Occasionally it seems as if someone's carpet is nicer than mine. They seem to have an easier time getting theirs to unroll. Their pattern seems brighter, prettier, more interesting. It seems thicker, nicer to walk on. Likewise, sometimes other people's carpets appear inferior to mine; I'm glad I'm on my carpet and not theirs. I can't swap - I can't even step off mine onto theirs - so I can never really tell what it's like on their carpet, and they can't possibly know what it feels like to be on mine.
Now and again I notice that someone I was used to travelling with isn't there any more. I'm so used to seeing them there but one day I realise that they're gone. Their carpet has run out. I know it has gone but I still can't tell what's at the end. I look back and crane my neck but the carpet just ends in space. I don't know what happens to the person kicking it along as I never seem to witness the exact moment it ends, I just see that it is no longer unravelling. What happened to the person whose carpet it was? Did they realise that it was going to end when it did? Maybe they noticed that the carpet was finally getting smaller? Maybe it just vanished. Then what? I don't know. Haven't got this bit figured out in my little fantasy. Neither do I know what's at the end of mine - or when it might end. It seems to me that there's plenty of carpet left at the moment... who knows, but you?
But I imagine.
I think the end of the carpet might be quite ornate - like something fantastic and awe inspiring from a Renaissance tapestry. Or maybe just a bit of brocade and a tassle. Or it gets thinner and thinner until it's no longer there.
But it's what happens when I finally step off the carpet that I want to know about. I know it's not thin air - there'll be ground beneath my feet that is more solid than it has ever been when I've been unrolling my carpet through space. Maybe I'll no longer walk but jump and fly...maybe I'll have a grace that I never had in my life... maybe there'll be a pattern that is so beautiful that it defies description.
My imagination isn't big enough.
So that's life. It's a journey, yes. It goes up and down like a rollercoaster, yes. I sometimes feel I'm in a race, yes. But it's a carpet, unrolling, unrolling. Inexorably leading me somewhere.
A beautiful, unique carpet that only I can walk on. I've got to keep it going.
Till one day it will stop. In a heartbeat. Done.
And then I'll know what's beyond the carpet. It's going to be amazing.