Set in Stone

What does it mean to turn a thing to stone?

Medusa, with all of her beauty and charm could turn a man to stone with a glance. The first records of human knowledge are literally set in stone. Stone is eternal, unmoved.

So what does it mean to turn a thing to stone internally?

Is it the integration of information in the mind? Cold facts and dates are certainly stone-like in their character. Often unmoved once set in place. Numbers are stone. Physical science is stone, with strong systems in place that ensure this information remains stone-like. Stones are simple to work with.

This doesn’t answer the question though, it merely describes the mechanics.

How much of what you know is made of the hardest stone?

I know I have my stones, I call them beliefs. Foundations through which every philosophical inquiry eventually finds themselves. These appear as unmovable as Ayers Rock to me, but I suspect they can budge – Given the right catalyst.

I used to think of myself as a kind of Medusa, not the Classic greek myth of the corruption of innocence and beauty and its consequences.

It was more a defence mechanism, a sure fire way to protect myself from the chance that someone might see my gooey insides. My logic was thus – Instead of forming healthy relationships with people, I could turn them to stone and run away. Before they had the chance to abandon me first.

This is Medusa at her worst. She was devastated when she saw her form in the mirror, and ran away to Africa. Her stones were the people who looked at her. Athena cursed her, but if you take it as a metaphor – The environment of the individual was so expectant of a certain way of being, a standard of such impossible to reach magnitude, that contentedness and satisfaction within such environments are impossible.

Medusa’s curse was that for every person who looked at her, be it with disgust or her expectation of their disgust, they turned to stone and her foundations are set from this place of perceived disgust.

Now disgust is just one interpretation, albeit the closest to the original text. But what is disgust?

It’s a subjective concept.

I would collect people when I turned them to stone. It was not malicious. Just a way to categorise my interactions. With the benefit of hindsight I can see that what I was collecting was a reflection of aversion. The things in life I didn’t want to be, the experiences I didn’t want to have. Futures that I wanted to avoid.

Aversion and disgust are similar concepts. Using the Medusa metaphor was an easy out, a way to avoid the notion that these were individuals with their own unique perspective that is almost always not what you think it is. Turning them to stone made it simple to live with the fact that I was constantly leaving people.

I don’t think Medusa will ever leave me, but her lessons are changing. Instead of aversion, I use her unique mechanics for the opposite. I collect things in life I want to be, Futures I want to see play out. I have changed the memories of the people I collected to reflect the truth of who they are, thus rendering the stone malleable and pliable.

So what does it mean to turn a thing to stone internally?

I mentioned beliefs earlier. Systems of categorisation at the long dark boundary of infinite chaos. Islands of stability in the rough seas of uncertainty.

But how stable are they really? Are they mere reflections of aversion or attraction? Things the Medusa in all of us wants them to be, or needs them to be for certain contexts to make sense and fit together.

The more I explore uncertainty, the more slippery the stones of belief I thought I had become. This has shattered the foundations of what I thought I knew. But I’m still here. I’m still fine.

I’m still breathing, and with breath I can fly. I can navigate disorder and chaos and uncertainty. Just by breathing.

Breath does not illuminate the darkness, it incorporates the darkness. It needs no aversions nor attractions to make sense of things, it is perfect the way it is.

And what is perfect in the breath is perfect in whatever context the breath finds itself, which…you guessed it. Is all of us.

Perseus, the great slayer of monsters, took the head of Medusa and gave it to Athena, rendering the fearsome crone into a powerful ally. Perseus, like Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. I like to think of it instead of removing the obstacles, they are transmuted into valuable tools for navigating chaos.

So, I’ll ask again. What does it mean to turn a thing to stone?