It is important to allow other people to be free and to not try to make them fit into molds that we think they should. Much of the unhappiness and lack of peace of mind that people often experience, in relation to other people, is caused by judging people and allowing ourselves to be unhappy if their behavior is not exactly according to our standards for them.
Procrustes’ nasty habit!
In Grecian mythology, there is the story of a famous bandit named Procrustes who lived in Attica. He had the unpleasant habit of forcing his victims to lie on an iron bed which was part of his robber’s equipment. If the unfortunate traveler was too long to fit the bed, he lopped off as much of his limbs as would suffice to make the fit perfect.
If the traveler were shorter than the iron bed, then Procrustes would put him on a rack and stretch him until he had reached the right length. This weird sense of inhuman torture seemed to satisfy Procrustes. He believed that all the travelers were much better off if they were all of equal length–that is–until Theseus came along!
Theseus was a young man who had just come into warrior status and was known for his courage and swordsmanship. Then, one day he decided to visit the home of his parents which would take him on the road past where Procrustes usually lay in wait for his prey. Although his grandfather tried to talk him out of taking that route, Theseus went anyway, confident that he could successfully conquer Procrustes should the need arise.
So, he clothed himself in his best suit of armor, took his faithful sword, mounted his prancing white horse (all heroes of this type seem to ride a white horse!), and set forth on the road which led past Procrustes hang-out.
As Theseus had anticipated, he no sooner reached Procrustes section of land than the bandit attempted to hold him up. After a terrific struggle, though, Theseus slew the giant robber. But he didn’t finish the job. Theseus only destroyed the bandit, but left the iron bed intact. Today, the world is covered with little iron beds into which each owner tries to fit everyone else, lopping off limbs here, and stretching bodies, there!
They are still with us!
We still have our little iron beds. Parents have them when they try to make their children into models of themselves; when they refuse to allow a child to have an independent opinion of his own, or to just be him or herself.
Wives and husbands sometimes do it to each other, when they try to dominate the other and make their partner fit into his or her picture of what a husband or wife should be. Often this creates a lot of unnecessary suffering and inharmony throughout many years of a partnership which should be happy, inspiring, and creatively free.
Critics try to do it. They are perhaps a more universal breed of Procrustes than any other type. We have them everywhere-in our towns, cities, throughout the world.
Fault finders try to put us all into their little iron beds because when people find fault, it is usually because of a feeling of inferiority they themselves have, and the only way they know to build up their own egos is to tear others down to their own level. A good way to stay out of faultfinders’ little iron beds is to not be one of them!
Then there is the school system which, far too often, has a process of preparing little iron beds for young humanity. They train children to fit a certain system rather than to develop their minds, talents, genius, and individual personalities.
Love is the Way
I think you get the picture. How much better it would be if we would let freedom ring. The golden key to freedom is love. Love’s way is to keep each of us so busy with SELF improvement we don’t have time for YOU improvement. At least, we do not try to make someone fit into a mold we think they should. The more we allow love to be expressed, the easier it is for us to be happy and at peace.
Love has no little iron beds. It can’t have. If it did, it wouldn’t be love. When we love enough we accept people as they are and give them the freedom to be the best they can be without interfering with that process. Then we are free to do the same.