So who is this Eshu, what is he doing with a spanner, and why does it seem like the spanner is a spear? Ah, my friends, gather round. Eshu is the Yoruba god of trickery... and communication. And listen closely, for it may have been Eshu who threw a spanner in your works when you felt confused and perhaps even self-doubt due to inexplicable miscommunication.
Say, for instance, that there is a Little Bo-Peep type character, wearing a frock, smiling day in, day out, looking to talk to people, from the heart, for after all, there is only one life we live, let's get to know each other, why waste our time. Oh! But the people do not want to talk to her, or open up to her. They see her frock and smile at how it "doesn't belong," and think superciliously that Bo has indeed lost sheep, as in "she's not all there." But let's say that Bo-Peep remembers a line from her eponymous nursery rhyme: Leave them alone, And they'll come home, Wagging their tails behind them. How zen of her! Bo takes a step back and chills out.
Where is Eshu in all this, you ask? Eshu's presence made the people clam up and become haughty. He shone light on Bo-Peep's old-fashioned haircut and took her sheep away so she would spill tears on the job. Oh, Eshu! So, the people had "reasons" to become haughty, and mock her, even purposely making things uncomfortable, to watch her squirm.
But, Bo-Peep made it through the tribulation, did she not? She became all zen, and said, let the sheep find their own way home, it wasn't me who drove them away. And in this way, Bo-Peep became a friend of Eshu, because Eshu does not make tribulation to ultimately bring chaos; rather, he throws a spanner in the works in the hopes of creating an experience that will lead to maturity. And who got mature in this story? It looks like Bo-Peep, in her Victorian frock and dated hairdo! What a suspenseful turn of events.
So any time we see confusion in your relations, and feel that it is not of our own doing, how nice it would be to remember our zen Bo-Peep telling us to "leave them alone, they'll find their own way home." To remember we are being tested and asked whether or not we are mature. Immaturity often leads to one's own demise - and even if we are bound to be immature in some things to the end of our lives, it is the attempt that is golden.
The most famous story of Eshu is about when he went to a village wearing a hat half-red on one side, half-black on the other. When he left the village, the people on one side of the street argued with the people on the other over what colour his hat was. Their dispute led to a war, in which many lost their lives. And what color was his hat? Both colors. And what did Eshu say? "Bringing strife is my greatest joy."
If one matures, one can see that one's perspective is often limited. Bo-Peep, for instance, may have realised it was time for a lesson from What Not to Wear, and change her image a little. Maturity is the zen wisdom of looking for compromise, for taking a step back. It is much harder, though not impossible, to get caught in Eshu's traps if one knows that. And, while Eshu may mean well, it is never fun to be hanging upside-down from an animal snare net. The moral of the story is: keep trying, be willing to learn from blind spots; we're all in this together!