The word has such a nice ring to it. I wanna marry that word.
Edgy is not for me. Danger is not my middle name. I am a creature of comfort.
I like promises.
I like things that are steadfast and secure. I like knowing how things are going to turn out. I like knowing things ahead of time.
Beforehand is one of my most favorite words. Predictable endings are my favorite kind of movies. Surprises scare me. I seek reassurance from those around me. I like it when people tell me I’m doing a good job, and that they love me.
I like people who stay the same, and remain in the same spot in my life. Change is terrifying.
It took me many years to realize that this does not make me bad. It just makes living life really hard.
If you are like me, there is a complication with this type of living. You will find yourself surrounded by people who do not operate the same way you do. When we draw too many lines, we end up in a very small box, inside a great big world. And although safe, it is limiting.
It doesn’t leave room for the abundance of life to take us by the waist and twirl us around in her fanciful way. It means you move left, I move right. You advance, I retreat. Choreographically speaking, it’s a mess. Opening wide to the advances of the universe furthers the growth and progress of your life. Realizing this is one thing, living it is another.
Living in a chronic state of anxiety is the result of this type of thinking, because the world does not adjust to the way I need things to be, to feel safe. The world is alive with expanding, breathing, wonder. Anything that expands, feels to me like it’s imposing.
A balloon can only get so big before it pops and deafens you in its moment of release. Plugging your ears doesn’t stop it from happening. Plugging my ears, metaphorically speaking, is how I deal with change. Ignore it, and it will go away. Pretend it’s not happening, and it’s not really happening.
I retreat and pull away from things that threaten my safety. I don’t give a lot of second chances. Having a big heart, this is hard. I am a sensitive soul, with a heart for the underdog. I will cheer you on, I will be your biggest fan, until you do something unexpected and I feel threatened.
Then I withdraw.
It is only in recent months that this pool of self reflection has become clearer, and in the image reflected back, I am no longer seeing just what I want to see, but rather what is actually there.
There I am, alone. I lament over being lonely, only to see in this pond that anything that expands, any type of unpredictability, I have driven away, and I’ve done it in a way where in the end, my hands are clean. I can wipe my life of you and not feel any type of blame.
There will be a million reasons why you have failed me, and why I am justified in walking away. I have fashioned my life to be comforting and safe, at the expense of relationships. Many times when I perceive something to be dangerous, it is simply that, a perception. Formed from a gaze that is scared.
She is unforgiving. She is brutally honest. She sometimes masquerades herself as something else, some “problem” to be dealt with, some “issue” to overcome. To only in the end, find that it was never about the problem, or the issue, it was you all along.
This automatic reflex of mine, to be guarded, to want to feel safe, is so deeply engrained in me that it feels like it is not just a part of me, but that it is my DNA. And try as I might, I have not been able to change my initial reaction to the unpredictable.
The reaction? Run.
Each of us carries entire universes within our bodies. We are made of things that even science cannot fathom. We are beautiful, we are complex. The worlds of emotions and thoughts within us are so interconnected and intricately woven that trying to single out one of those threads and change it can feel like searching the bottom of the ocean floor for a dropped earring.
It is so massive, and diving that deep takes your breath away.
Who among us has that type of courage? To comb the ocean of your soul with a fine toothed comb, looking for the thing that is disrupting everything else?
That task is enormous.
But I dare say it is one of the most worthwhile undertakings you could ever pursue.
What we find in this pursuit, is that we are more alike than we are different. During this endeavor, grace will be on our sides. We will cross paths with people who reflect just what we need to be reflected in those moments, and we will see God. We will see that the mass of our souls, is made of our neighbors. And that our neighbors, are made of the stuff that the universe is made of, the stuff God is made of.
Thus concluding, that we carry the entire universe and God within us.
Suddenly that very small world will seem less like a prison, and more like a straight jacket. It will feel like there is absolutely no room to breathe or move. You will wonder how you have lived your life this way for so many years. You will wave the white flag, and you will surrender.
The jacket will fall off. You will have the insight that you were once inside a jacket, in a room, that was in a building, that was in a city, that is in a country, that is on the planet, that is inside a universe, which is inside another universe…and you will feel….small.
When seen from the perspective of universal proportions, our daily problems with people and their effect on our lives seem inconsequential. The things that we used to run from, or shy away from, will not even seem like things anymore.
Life will come alive with life, and instead of painfully asking, “what next?,” you will have eyes of anticipation that beg “what next?!”
Bridges will appear as you are putting one foot in front of the other, crossing over terrain that necessitates a bridge to be born as you are walking, or skipping, or leaping forward towards life.
There will be the realization that life is no longer hinging upon a closed door,but that the doors have been burned down and they have been added to the bonfire of what no longer works, and what needs to be gone.
You will be on a pilgrimage, and your determined walk will invite others to join you.
They will not know what they are walking toward, but will know from the look in your eye that you are headed someplace great.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Dana Gornall / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo Credit: Bhumika Bhatia/Flickr