Just when we get into comfortable or uncomfortable patterns, something usually happens to stir things up. Sometimes its our own discomfort that thrusts us into action; other times it’s what others do or don’t do that signal change. One of my favorite little stories about change and its nature, I first read in a book written by Professor Anne Tilden, How Not to Make It. I still have my ratty copy of this blue and white paperback. It must have been a cheap print job because it was one of those books that kind of fell apart as I was reading it.
However, I found her ideas so profound at the time (in the 80s), that I read and reread it, and consider it one of those books that acted as a change agent in my life. She wrote about the dynamic nature of the Universe, including that part of space that we each take up. Tilden gave an example of how we relate to change. Imagine if you will, a card table laid out in front of you. You have one of those large jigsaw puzzles with hundreds of pieces, and you have been sitting at the table, day after day, trying to get the pieces put together to form a picture. You’re just about to get the last few pieces of the puzzle put into place when someone walks by, kicks the leg of the card table, and sends the pieces of the puzzle flying all over.
Get the picture? And that’s what happens to us occasionally…the big pieces get scattered and we lose sight of the bigger picture. I think there is more than one way to interpret this little analogy. It used to mean to me that just when you think everything is going to turn out fine, something changes it. I no longer believe that there is a ‘fine’, but I do believe there are all kinds of possibilities of what could happen. And so when anything upsets our plans, new plans or visions or ways of handling things can be considered.
There is power in thought and in words, and I notice too that when I begin to identify something that is out of whack in my life, regardless of how big or small, the Universe shifts just enough for me to see things from a different angle. If I’m paying attention, I am able to study life with a fresh perspective. If I’m living in fear, I feel my insides churning and the past rises up to haunt me, and I start feeling like a problem is actually bigger than it is. How to deal with that if you are strongly introverted, is to reach out to connect to those friends and family members who ‘get’ you. Some of us do that here, and among my friends and family, there are those who I call to arms when I’m feeling like I might be slipping into a time warp, dropping down into the rabbit hole of the past.
Remember when Alice was falling down, down, down? As she fell she passed objects, people, short glimpses of her life. Or at least that’s how I thought of it. And when I slip into that emotional rabbit hole, the same darn thing happens. Feelings link to memories which link to incidents that triggered fear, anxiety, or whatever reaction I felt at the time. Now, years or decades later, that string of electrical attachment to that event, still charges through my veins, and so I know it’s time to pull that cord free. I no longer belong there in that past memory. I am free of it, insofar as I release myself from it.
In mediation I visualize any kind of emotional trap and imagine that a cord of energy is attached between it and me as I am now. I then imagine pulling that cord and allowing the energy invested in holding onto that past, back to me. Freeing me to be me here and now. And recognizing what the trap is, but not allowing myself to victimize myself in the here and now. Why would we want to undo all the wonderful strides we have made in our growth over the years? Why would be feel the need to punish, feel shame, or disappear into someone we are no longer, if we had any choice at all? So talking about, writing about, or thinking about these traps, help me free myself from them.
Granted it can be a slow process, or rather it can be something that is never quite completely over. Instead, I now recognize dysfunction when I feel or see it. I recognize when I’m at the edge of the rabbit hole or on my way into freefall mode. And then I bring my awareness back to this moment and find ways to ground myself in the present and in the gifts of the present. Whatever is going on, and in my life this is not the really big stuff, I do have some ability to shake it off or jump into the pool and feel the full impact of whatever is laying me out.
One thing we metaphysical folk do is look for signs. Sometimes they come in such obvious ways, we miss them. I sense impending change or danger as I get feelings or sensations, usually in my core. When my core turns to jelly, and I feel like my energy is drained, I first look to see what is going on within me or my immediate life that is triggering it. Sometimes it’s me; more often it’s something I’m picking up that is going on elsewhere or/and with someone else. So when I do the initial check in, I ask myself what I am sensing. Sometimes answers come in dreams, sometimes in patterns of behavior I notice going on around me, or by the macrocosm playing out in the microcosm in and around me.
When things start falling apart, in my life or anyone else’s, I see this as a good thing. It means the transformation has begun, the ground is shaking, things are going to happen. And we all have choices when this is going on in our lives. We can take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and start asking ourselves what we can do, what we can have an effect on, or what we need to take care of. We also can simply learn to trust the falling apart process. Let it happen. Say ‘yes’ and get out of the way. Stand back and see what happens when others’ lives implode or explode. See what lack of feeding or fueling the fire does in situations that seem to be volatile and iffy.
Passive resistance is something I have always admired. It’s also not been something I’ve been very good at doing. I’m more of a doer. What can I do to fix this or respond to this situation or dilemma? But passive resistance is a not responding or reacting to the blows that are being directed toward me. Passive resistance doesn’t imply standing and letting someone continue to hurt you, but it does mean not investing your energy in striking back.
The beautiful, poignant photograph of the stately woman standing in all her grace in front of a group of military-style uniformed cops who were approaching her like she was a time bomb, stands out as one of those iconic moments in our history. How do we meet fear? How do we meet abuse and violence? How do we stand our ground in response to fear and hate? How do we meet ourselves in the other person, identifying our mutual humanity? How do we guard ourselves against virulent and harmful poison spewed by hate-filled people? How do we guard our hearts and souls so that we can do the best we can given the situations we’re in.
And how can we learn to walk away from the fires that burn inside in some? Those fires that rage out of unhealed hurt, unexpressed sorrow, or unspoken hate are the ones that can cause us the most harm. So rooting them out of ourselves, first by acknowledging what we feel and how we see things, and then by letting the fire burn out so that we no longer feed the energy. It seems our lives are all about learning to work with the energy that is trapped within us, wanting to be expressed. We are so fortunate to have our art, our writing, our passions, and our minds to see clearly and make better choices each day, each hour. Choices that make us all better.
The rooster down the street is crowing. Until this week, I have not heard him crowing at all. This week I’ve heard him at least three times. The Mourning Doves are cooing, and all the birds are doing what they do when daylight comes. And the daylight shines light on a new day, a new opportunity, and a new period of time when we can use our energy any way we choose. We can choose life or death. Choose life, as the old Deuteronomists says. Choose life. That which enlivens you, enlivens others and the whole of Creation.