My journey of rediscovery continues as I continue to put myself in unfamiliar situations and test personal limits. In the same vein, I set intention in 2016 to stick with circumstances that are not ideal, paths that are difficult. This chapter continues and has started to yield interesting insights.
Reclaim your story
Nadya (my oldest childhood friend) was there as I lived out a fairly troubled childhood and watched me suffer along several dimensions as an adult because sometimes our demons are all we know and they scare everyone else away. She reminded me that I am not the product of my past and have the choice to be whoever I want to be. That didn’t resonate with me until I discovered forms of therapy (NLP, Lifespan Integration, EMDR) that helped me understand the nature of our memories.
Every time we recall or relive a memory, our mind alters it, adding a translucent layer of our present vantage point to the picture from long ago. Layers upon layers until the story in our minds is as much about who we choose to be every day as much as who we were when that mental postcard was captured. A violent event can become increasingly less damaging in our memory if we relive it from the position of safety and empowerment in the present.
It is incredibly liberating to know that our past is not static, etched in stone, that our experience of time is not linear but rather circular. The present informs the past as much as the past informs the present and we can use this cycle to be exactly who we want to be.
While we can’t re-write the facts of events that have transpired, we can absolutely reframe the meaning we made of them, and in doing so reclaim ourselves. Knowing this has given me renewed vigor to explore the story of my life, the good, the bad and the ugly – to dwell on all of it (contrary to shitty advice) because in it lie the deepest truths of who I am and who I want to be.
Hush now, let it go
On my dad’s living room wall was a painting of a lost war ship, moment before the ocean swallowed it. I suspect all of us know what it means to be that ship. Scary as fuck!
We build large structures around us. We fortify. We amass wealth so the foundations can be stronger, the walls higher. We latch on to our communities. Safety in numbers. We insure our lives against the ravages of the ocean with pedigree, Linked In profiles, powerful friends, religious dogma, political affiliations.
All fine investments to make. Except for one debilitating flaw.
We’re trapped inside our forts, holed up, waiting to be swallowed up. We do jobs we don’t like, put up with people that take our light away, follow norms we don’t believe in, live in passive or active fear.
For a moment, let’s not be afraid. Let’s confront the baseline nature of life. We’re all in a dinghy a lot more frail than the lost war ship. The ocean we skim is infinite in all dimensions, and infinitely unpredictable. Any of us is one wrong turn away from heart breaking loss, long term disability, unemployment and homelessness, life long suffering, humiliation and abandonment. And many of us have gotten that call and lived through the horrors of drowning. The calmness we may be experiencing in our lives is only because of us in a small way. Let’s chalk up the rest to just a good weather day and not our silly little forts.
Let’s find gratitude for the sun that shines upon us, be humble for the prosperity we receive, step out of the controlled environments we’ve worked so hard to create and invest our time in the people and activities that bring meaning to our lives.