“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them!” – Hafiz
What do three friends, a book, a dozen squabbling woodpeckers, three caterpillars, Neale Donald Waslch and Joni Mitchell have to do with each other? Anything and everything and they have all conspired to lift me to a new level of awareness. They have at once been the container and the ingredients of a personal insight. Do you have a few minutes? Here’s the story and a little music too…
There are some big changes afoot for me, big decisions to be made and I will be writing about them; revealing more as the weeks go by.
Decision making is not my strong suit, or has not been thus far. What I notice is that I will receive an incredible opportunity, get very excited and then begin the downward spiral of analysis paralysis. The rabbit that takes me down that hole is my fear of making a mistake, of being sorry I made the choice I made, finding out there was something better, feeling trapped.
Well, at least I thought that was my fear. And it is. At least it is the trunk of the tree of that fear. I got a clear insight that it was not the true fear when the first friend, Pemma, asked me “So, what if you do make a really big mistake?” I started to laugh. I didn’t know why in the moment, but I knew that the answer was simply, then I walk away and do something else. For a shining moment, my fear of making a mistake, even a really big one, had vanished, poof!
Later, my friend Joette, sent me an email and asked what the root of my fear was. I set it aside for further musing. Sometimes the mere invocation of a question allows an answer to reveal itself down the road.
I stepped outside to photograph the dozen or so Acorn Woodpeckers squabbling over territory. Woodpeckers are symbolic of mental activity (red caps) and these completely mirrored my inner experience of the discord between my body, mind, spirit and heart, not to mention my higher and lesser selves. My mind was in a distortion spin cycle. Several of the woodpeckers were drumming loudly and furiously on trees and posts. Their drumming encouraged me to invite new rhythms into my life.
That afternoon, I was scanning the book The Trance of Scarcity to gather some abundance momentum, muster up some courage for risk-taking, and remind me that living small creates smaller living. Author Victoria Castle tells a story of a trip to Yosemite. She writes of wanting to take in all the grandeur and beauty on her day of departure. She tries to breathe it in, but can’t seem to hold it, to keep it. As she walks back to her cabin disappointed, she hears something rumbling deep inside.” She stops to listen and hears,
“How about if you let us absorb you?”
She then allows the majesty of Yosemite to absorb her and that is how she “knew the oneness [she] had longed for.”
Reading these words, I knew that I would not lose what I was leaving behind, if I allowed it to absorb me. I don’t have to try to pack it all into my memory or find some way to take it with me or recreate it. I can be absorbed by it and know that, in our oneness, these days, these places, these experiences, these people are always with me as I am with them.
Later, my friend Alicia held a beautiful space of mindfulness in our conversation and I got in touch with how my wounded ego uses drama to scare me; the drama and pain of good-byes. I also discovered how I make up that I need to suffer mightily in letting go to prove my love for something or someone. It can’t look like it was too easy. Alicia reminded me to express and receive gratitude for these people, places and times and release the drama and story about goodbyes that create suffering.
Neale Donald Walsch’s message for the day read:
On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God wants you to know…
…that when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it
is not beneficial to go out and build more tunnel.
I thought of the third caterpillar that had crawled across my driveway, up the front wall of my house and attached itself a fair distance from two others, to begin its metamorphosis. When we have been through the chaos of transformation, why would we want to create more darkness for ourselves? Why would we not wholly embrace the emergence as a winged creature feeding on the nectar of life? The only answer I can come up with is fear.
I return to Joette’s question, what is the root? What is the threat my wounded ego holds over me regarding mistakes? The answer came through:
If you make a mistake I will never forgive you. I will shame you and berate you for your stupidity. I will punish you mightily.
I used to do that to myself, but it’s hardly how I am with myself now. It’s more an old habit than a current reality. It’s a flinch with no punch to back it up. I think this is why I could see it. The root is no longer submerged in my unconscious. I am aware of my self-talk and have changed it to be more nurturing than critical.
I made a pact with myself that enabled me to move forward with my decision making process. I will love, respect and forgive myself if it turns out that I want to make a different choice in the future. I will not punish, berate or shame myself. I will make another choice and move on. I will look for the gratitude for all that the apparently mistaken choice has taught me.
You see, it’s not the mistake that feels so bad; it’s not the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s, themselves. It’s how mean we are to ourselves that scares us.
For me, this insight was an invitation to release the delusion that mistakes have to inflict painful consequences; that learning is painful and if you don’t feel enough pain, you haven’t learned much.
I awakened the next day at peace and the woodpeckers had stopped squabbling. Only the original family remained.
When we contract, we pull in our energy, our world gets small, our thinking becomes circular or numbed by habit. We become an energy vortex, sucking things in an inward spiral. We feel the pain of separateness. There is never enough of anything and at the same time we refuse and are even blind to all that is offered to us.
When we expand, our energy grows; alchemy and synthesis are available to us. The world becomes a friendlier place; even enchanting. Our thinking evolves and there is always enough. We are open and we receive. We know we are not separate.
The important thing to remember is that contracting and defending in order to create a sense of safety actually results in less safety. It’s dangerous territory when you live with a sense of “me against the world.”
The aspect of me that thinks there is such a thing as a mistake or a failure thinks there is something to know about life. Something to learn that will be the ultimate key for success and happiness.
What is there to know? Hindsight is not 20/20. It’s a story.
“It’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”
And I have to say, in this moment, that feels darn good – a huge sigh of relief! The beauty of not knowing and not having to know leaves lots of room for play, exploration, adventure.
A caterpillar undergoes total dissolution in the chrysalis/cocoon. It becomes fully absorbed by its new form.
The chrysalis on my wall will be abandoned in 7 to 10 days.
I’m celebrating immersion and emergence!
What is the sound of butterfly wings clapping?
Note: for more information about the symbolic meanings of butterflies and woodpeckers, see Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak.
copyright(c)April 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved