When I was asked to write about the concept of “Break” I was forced to open my mind and think over a very wide range. I soon concluded that there is a lot more to the concept of “Break” than first appears. I soon filled a sheet of paper with various ways in which we use the word. From “breakfast”, “break up” or “break down”, “break in” or “break out” or “break with”, to “give me a break” to “break wind”. The list is very long indeed and I am quite sure I could fill more than one sheet!
According the dictionary I am fond of using (a 1932 edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary in four volumes) there is a very distinct connotation of a ”snap” that goes with the idea of “break”. As for example when you break a twig or small branch there is a “snapping” sound, a “crack”. There is a very loud “BOOM” indeed when we “break” the sound barrier. A storm “breaks” and we experience the power of Nature.
There is a distinct feeling that somehow there is an element of violence in both the action and the word. With that goes the idea that when something “breaks” you irrevocably change its previous form. Whatever it was before, it can never be that again after you “break” it.
This is an enormously powerful idea. The idea that we as human beings have the ability to consciously “Break” something and then, if we so chose, we are also able to change it into something quite different. This “Breaking” then becomes an essential part of the act of Creation. In fact when you break something you by definition create something else!
We often talk of our ability to Create, to make new things. In fact the whole of this civilisation with its huge commercial bias depends on our ability to create new things. It is an ability of which we are, rightly, sensible and proud. No other thing appears to have this creative ability – at least not the extent that we have been given it.
What we seem to have lost sight of is the other side of the Creative coin. We simply don’t seem to realise that every time we create something we must also, irrevocably change the existing form of something else. For us to create something we have to “Break” something – and at least to a degree that “Breaking” will be violent. Create a table and a tree must “break”. Create a pot and the clay must “break” with the earth. Create a baby and the old forms must “break”. Create a loaf and the ingredients must yield their previous identity. Whatever it was must quite literally die.
Is it The End?
This seems to be where we fall down. We see breaking something as unfortunate, even bad. It is time to look at this differently.
When we think of something “Breaking” we think of it ending in one way or another. This is of course true. The old thing that is now broken, whether it be a stick, a glass, or a relationship, is ended in its old form. What we need to be aware of is that every time something “Breaks” what we are in reality presented with is not so much a loss but rather an opportunity to create something new. That is the one thing in life that we are simply not allowed to pass up – the chance to create something new. Every time we do that we deny one of the greatest gifts that we have been given. The gift of being able to Create.
So next time you say, “Give me a break!” be very aware of what you are saying. If Life is so obliging to grant your wish expect that there could be a sudden (and perhaps violent) change in your life as the old form of something indeed Breaks. The responsibility is now yours to use the chance that is now given you to create something new.
And is that not what you asked for? Is not Life wonderful – that it so often gives us what we ask for? So let me wish something for you. May there be many things that “Break” in your life. Then you can swing into action with all the talents you have been given and experience yourself as the creator you are. Richer than that Life surely cannot be.
Christopher Nevill is the Founder of Foundation. His work is internationally respected and honoured. He consults to organisations both large and small here in South Africa as well as Europe. He has a reputation for approaching matters that concern us all both personal and business, from a different angle. His methods are effective and produce swift, often startling results. To see more about Christopher’s philosophy and work, visit www.christophernevill.net
Christopher’s book “How to Manage Anger” is available on Amazon.