Security and the Constant Temptation to Yield to Expediency
Security is a wonderful feeling, which all of us seek, yet few of us actually experience fully. Especially with the economic downturn – no one is safe from the potential demise of the current world market.
Almost four years ago, I took myself out of the game, as it were, in order to follow an intuition – a calling, if you will, onto a trajectory that I knew would reap extraordinary rewards that I had not yet even imagined.
In the tarot deck of cards, the Tower is one of twenty-two Major Arcana cards. The image is a large burning tower from which a person falls. Some interpretations say he was thrown off, others say he jumped.
The image basically represents – in my interpretation, the creation of a tower of power, the culmination of belief and material stuff. Standing at its precipice, one is filled with pride of achievement, with worry and concern that it isn’t enough, or with disdain that someone is going to take it all away. Or, with a sense of freedom and liberation – now this … what next?
Universal consciousness – the Guy with the proverbial two by four – knocks us upside the head and off we go, over the side of our tower of power. We never know what it will be: Cancer, accidents, relationship endings, or financial crisis. And, we are always surprised when it happens. “I never saw it coming!”
I’m constantly amazed at the degree to which we practice any of the basic tenets of our religious and spiritual traditions. The perennial teachings tell us that we can’t find security in the material world – it doesn’t exist. They say that through letting go of attachments, being kind and compassionate, generous and accepting, one will inherit the earth. Expounding to others what we ourselves are unwilling to practice is common behavior around the globe. We rarely prepare or ready ourselves for the moment when we are thrown from our tower of power.
Those unique few who jump willingly, know that the adventure isn’t in the arrival, the hoarding, the worry and the pride of the accumulation of power. It’s in the fall – in the quality of the experience when you are momentarily liberated from what you thought was yours! It’s not about being fearful and panicked. It’s about getting clear of the values you value most.
Few of us – especially in Western Civilization – have cultivated an awareness of who we are and what we value. We don’t know that we don’t know, and with blissful ignorance, swim along in the current of the reality we are born into. Even though our holy books are near our bedsides, we pay no attention to our personal relationship with the concepts shared within them.
Jumping from a burning tower – expediency – is the fastest way down, but it may kill you! Staying in the burning building – that too will kill you. You have to choose. Or, to not choose means that you abdicate your power and let the Holy Roller cast the dice for you. It’s a dilemma!
My own experience of this leap/jump/fall dilemma is that I’ve come to question my values – even the value of life itself. It’s a scary exploration. A large percentage of people die within months of retiring. Their lives seem to have no value once they leave their jobs behind. Work and its stresses gave them a sense of purpose, even though the work itself may have been unfulfilling. At least they could fantasize about what they would do with their lives once they retired and left it all behind. Walking away from their tower of power provided a crisis point, which they found too devastating.
Self-help books, whether psychological or spiritually oriented, encourage us to cultivate a realization that we are not our jobs, our bank accounts, our cars, nor our relationships. We are none of that. We are encouraged to take a serious look at who we really are, what it is we really want, and to explore our personal and professional relationship with our spiritual life.
Making and taking the time to leap/fall/jump reaps rewards you’d never imagine. But in our busy lives, when does one find the time to make it happen? Surrendering attachments to the self-importance derived from our availability to others through texts, emails and cell phones, well, that’s a lot to be with. With all that we’ve gained through the gifts of technology, we’ve also lost our freedom and right to just be. We’ve corrupted our belief system by saying “it’s imperative to be available to everyone but myself.” We are afraid of who we are in the silence of our own stillness.
I have a theory that “insomnia” is running rampant these days because the middle of the night, when lying in bed, is the only possible time that we can be alone with our own selves. Being alone with ourselves is becoming such a foreign experience, it terrifies us – so, we take medication to numb ourselves in this way as well.
Whether we leap or are pushed from our tower of power, we are faced with the inevitable ‘be-with.’ All the avoidance strategies we engaged no longer keep us from being in the midst of feeling powerless, helpless and hopeless – foundational human experiences that we spend lifetimes avoiding. To proactively engage with these human experiences as if they were our lovers, would minimize the pain and suffering that we heap onto ourselves by attempting to avoid what is inherent in our humanness.
Because we exist, we are sometimes powerless, helpless and hopeless. Accepting that this is just the way it is liberates us from attempting to avoid it! We can begin then, to laugh, and to see how silly we’ve been to think so highly of ourselves.
All will be lost
Because of the choices we’ve made throughout our lives, there will come a time when no matter what, it will feel as if all will be lost. In this moment we experience a shattering. Our dreams of a life that felt stable and safe disappear. Perhaps all our possessions are lost or taken away. In times like these, we do one of two things: we blame ourselves for the choices we’ve made, for our incompetence and inadequacies that got us into this mess, or, we blame others for the choices they’ve made, for their incompetence and their inadequacies that got us into this mess. Betrayed, abandoned, alone and lost, feeling powerless, hopeless and helpless; in these moments, we hate being human!
Be Afraid – Be Very Afraid
Hurricanes, tsunamis, economic downturns, misuse of power, accidents, layoffs – you get the picture. Our dearest treasures, be it possessions, people, our identities, youth, beauty – our lives – somehow, someday, it all gets taken away.
I spoke to a group of individuals who not too long ago were laid off or fired from their management and executive positions in Silicon Valley, CA. What was revealed was that they experienced elements of trauma and tragedy in having their positions and livelihoods taken away. Houses repossessed, bankruptcy, plummeting self-worth and self-respect. What would be the point in rebuilding any of it, they asked. It will all be taken away again anyway.
The intention of my talk with this group of unemployed San Francisco residents was to engage them in a deeper listening to themselves. I wanted them to excavate this one, single moment of dire disappointment and shattered dreams. Through this uncovering, the likelihood of also revealing outmoded beliefs could allow them to choose to grieve what had been lost, and then choose differently in service to personal and professional fulfillment.
Such deep listening brings one to a dilemma. If they hear, see and reflect upon what they believed to be true, prior to their fall from grace, then they would have to prioritize their numerous values, and sit in discernment to make sense of it all. What to keep, what to let go of, and what no longer serves their highest good & their highest truth? With everything taken away, what is one left with? And if, through discernment, these individuals find that everything they worked for amounted to a hill of beans – then what? They would have to let go, and grieve the loss of what didn’t really matter in the first place. YUCK!
On the other hand, if any one of these participants chose to decide to remain a victim to their circumstances, then they have chosen a disempowered path for themselves. They will have no way out of what looks like a pretty empty and unfulfilling catastrophe. Here too, they will have to let go of and grieve the loss of what didn’t really matter in the first place. YUUUCKKK!
The Fall from Grace
I’ve been discovering that my fall from grace was not as foolish as it first seemed. Unearthing lifetimes of themes labeled This Too Was Taken Away From Me, led me to witness how, in the past, I clung with white knuckles to the idea that I could actually keep life from sliding into a dismal cataclysm. I saw how I’ve kept myself small, in service to minimizing the amount I would or could lose, once again.
Many of my nights were spent in deep conversation with myself and my God, discerning what is reality, really. I unveiled the many ways I contributed to life turning out the way it has, as opposed to how I imagined it to be. Part of me harbored deep anger towards myself, because I failed to bring about the fulfillment of the fairytale happily-ever-after. This rageful aspect blames me for not living up to its expectations. It brings up, time and time again, the degree to which I am inadequate and incompetent. In the midst of this bludgeoning, I want to die, just to end this process that seems to have no end.
The only analogy I have that is comparable to this process is having the flu – one that requires enormous amount of vomiting to rid the body of the toxic virus. Though I’ve purged myself far more than I ever imagined possible, I still retrieve elements from within and wonder “Where the heck did that come from?” The other night was no different for me, as I purged out the phrase: “How could you let this happen? You are so incompetent!”
This time, I listened to my own verbal abuse and thought “Wow, you’ve been doing this your whole life.” Then I asked this righteous, angry part of myself (better known as my ego), “Why are you so angry? You too played a role in the circumstances being what they are. We are here, together, in this human experience. Get over it, and let’s look at this differently so we can see our stumbling blocks.”
Well, the conversation turned around for the better. Staying in this deep, empty space, I discovered that I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to have it all taken away again. So, I’d play it safe by playing small; all the while working really hard to have the life I say I want.
I also acknowledged that everyone loses everything, sooner or later. This brought me to a choice-point where I had to decide what is worth losing. I might as well take a job that requires no personal risk, if I’m not willing to lose what I’ve been afraid to lose all along. That is, my belief in my ability to make a huge contribution to the betterment of the world.
The Vase is Already Broken
I have two choices. I can avoid losing, thus minimizing risk while minimizing fulfillment, or, choose to do what I love, enjoy the exploration and the experiment of being me, here, now, inching my way towards my highest and best contribution to the world. In this moment I can choose to do what I love, knowing, in actual fact, that there is nothing to lose and only a human experience to gain. It’s a time filled with wonder and unknowns, available only by choosing once again to fling myself off my Tower of Power.
I believe we came into our humanness to experience all of it – the highs and the lows, the agony and the ecstasy. I believe too that we’ve chosen the themes and the characters we play, so as to experience what this aspect of life is like, and to grow and develop into wiser individuals. Losing actually makes us winners!
The Step, Jump, Leap, Fall
This is the point that each of us face all the time, the edge of our comfort zone. We want comfort, and we want the safety net. And yet, sometimes it just isn’t there. So we have to be willing to move into expansion in order to, hopefully experience fulfillment in moving forward, trusting that we will find ourselves, find serenity, and expand ourselves into that space that we are really wanting to know exists.
I want to make it clear that the stepping out of our comfort zone isn’t like a leap or it isn’t even a quarter of an inch, in a sense. It’s the willingness to intentionality standing where we are only be open to the possibility that there’s something different. Even the “being open” to the possibility can be a huge, huge leap for people. And then to allow themselves to question, “What is that?”
I have a client I talked to this morning and she is asking herself some really cool questions. Her come-from has been that she is sick and crazy and that she is a fake. She was saying that people in her life see her as this fake and this loser and that’s how people see her. She is at a point where she has been living from that belief and trying to turn people’s ideas about her around. That’s her basic come from for over 40 years. And now she is saying, “You know, maybe that’s who I’ve been. Maybe I have been a fake. Maybe I am inadequate in ways and incompetent. And maybe that is what’s true. But that doesn’t mean that I have to keep beating myself up about that. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t learn to be something different, or that I can choose to be in my life differently so that I’m not faced with those places where I just don’t function well.”
Rather than beating herself up and avoiding and ignoring at all, she is now in that moment of choice, where she can say, “Maybe I can see this differently. Maybe I don’t have to think the way that I have been thinking about this.” That in itself is a huge, huge possibility and opportunity for her. Just to be in that conversation.
Our practice of choosing to not choose is an attempt to avoid what we want to avoid – to fall, leap, or be pushed. The bottom line: Whether you choose to move in alignment with your highest truth or you choose to choose to remain where you are, you will have to face loss and grief. By not choosing, we remain in a pretend state of: not having to face the consequence of our own choosing – this is an ongoing, chronic state of HELL! To commit and act may feel like Hell too, but its temporary, and depending on stuff, can move swiftly with little or no pain. You won’t know until you go!
If what you are wanting to avoid are experiences of unworthiness, incompetence, unlovable, inadequate … well, these are what you will be facing regardless of what you choose. The reason for this is that these experiences are part of our humanness. Because we exist we are, at some time or another, all of these and more. We are powerless, helpless, hopeless. Our life circumstances bring us to moments of being immersed in the direct experience of uselessness, feeling pathetic and weak. Our egoic self won’t allow us to engage with our humanness and puts up screens and creates strategies to ignore or avoid the direct experience of humanness. Its funny, but sad. We came here to have a human experience and fight like animals to deny the truth of our being.
Choosing to choose will be a catalyst for taking the plunge. It’s a conscious, self-empowered event that will be a beginning of a new relationship with yourself.
As a Transformational Coach, I am here to support and empower you to step into your truth with faith and trust that you will land in a fascinating place, glad that you took the risk. Please let me know how I can support you through your adventure. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org