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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Fear of Transformation


I took the weekend off from computers to enjoy my time with a friend who was in town. The weekend is over, it's back to work, and...why, oh, why can I totally relate to that picture of a man hanging in the air?


When I am in the flow, well, everything seems to go my way. I love the feeling of fearlessness, of knowing that I'm on the right track. But, inevitably, I hit a snag, or so it feels that way. Change sometimes purely sucks! Or so it feels that way. But, I know, I know in my heart of hearts that that is where the growth is. I can either stay in this yuck phase, where I feel like I'm in spinning my wheels, or I can keep doing what I need to do to propel myself forward.


I know what the answer is.


My friend Melisa shared the following passage with me. It so finely put into words the groundlessness we experience during moments of transition.


Enjoy and, of course, Bring it!


Barbie, PhD


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From the Essene Book of Days by Danaan Perry

Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.


Mostly, I spend my life hanging on to my "trapeze-bar-of-the-moment." It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have a feeling that I'm in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But, once in a while, as I'm merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me, into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this "new trapeze bar" has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar, to move to the new one.


Each time it happens to me, I hope (no pray) that I won't have to grab the new one. But, in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and, for some moments in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across "the void of knowing", I have always made it. Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between bars. But, I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call "the faith experience". No guarantees, - no net, - no insurance policy, - but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here." It is called transition. I have come to believe that is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get pushed.


I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "no-place" between places. Sure, the old trapeze-bar was real and that new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too. But the void in between? That's just a scary, confusing, disorienting "nowhere" that must be endured. What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honoured, even savoured. Yes, with all the pain, fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.


And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to "hang-out" in the transition between trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.

2 comments:

Steph, D.C. said...

Oh...I love this post...I have been feeling this exact way and I'm not liking it at all! Change is scary and its hard to embrace it sometimes! Thanks for sharing that:)

Coach Barbie, PhD said...

Thanks, Steph. More posts of that nature, coming up! I'm working through it. Hug.