The Magic Web

We live in a magical world.  If you don’t think so, just look around you; look at the intricacies of a spider’s web (Her mother dies giving birth to her – so how does she know how to create that? Where do the designs come from?) Look at the glory of a sunrise; at the intimate dance of sunlight and shadow across the surface of a pond; at the delicate ecological balance of life taking place just beneath the surface of that water.

Truly, mysteries abound.  The secrets of fierce nuclear fusion that give birth to the life-giving warmth of our sun, the cycling of our stars and the complex combination of interlocking chemical and biological systems that make up the human body.

But probably one of the most amazingly mysterious and magical concepts is the fact that each of these mysteries; each of these intricate layers of creation is connected to everything else around it.  Like the spider dancing across the strings of her web; we too are connected to everything around us.  We share our energy with that spider.  We dance to the sinuous music of the wind in the trees and in our hearts burns the same fierce brightness that fuels the sun itself.

You don’t believe me?  Go out into your yard before dawn some morning; go out in your bare feet and feel the dew on the grass beneath your toes; close your eyes and let the silence soak into your skin; feel the stirring of the wind; feel the power of the earth soaking into the soles of your feet.  Listen as the birds begin to welcome the first rays of sunlight; then open your eyes and watch as morning breaks and then tell me that you are not connected to everything around you.

It’s just that sometimes there is so much to take in.  Sometimes it is too much to take in.  Sometimes it feels that if we try to take it all in our hearts will burst with the sheer beauty of it.  In fact, chances are that the last time you truly took the time to let yourself connect to everything and everyone around you was when you were a child; when you could still comprehend the vastness and the mystery of it without needing to understand why.

No, for most of us there comes a time when our openness and willingness to accept our connection to everyone and everything becomes too much to bear.  Usually this occurs when someone or something within our web lets us down; when we can no longer see the beauty of the connection because of the pain of disappointment and dashed hopes; when even trying to see this connection hurts us too much and we withdraw to a safer, less vibrant level of reality where it won’t hurt so bad because we are no longer as open to life.

And it doesn’t end with our first step away from openness.  Most of us spend our lives narrowing our connection.  For most of us, our webs of connection to the world around us get smaller and smaller over the years; our connections fewer as people and circumstances fail to live up to our expectations.  And instead of dealing with the pain we simply narrow our focus; spinning smaller and smaller webs until finally the last filaments of our once glorious web drift away in the evening breeze because of our neglect and we sit forlorn on the fencepost; alone and unconnected and waiting for the end.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.

That talented spider with her delicately spun web does not let a little thing like a disappointment or discouragement –or even failed expectations keep her from maintaining her glorious web.  She spins and spins and spins and spins again.  And even when her web is broken by struggling insects; by gales of disappointment; by the careless actions of others; she quickly re-creates her web, continually opening herself back up – yes, to the pain and the disappointments – but also to the beauty and the wonder that caused her to choose that particular place to spin a web in to begin with.

So what is keeping you?

What is keeping you from re-spinning that web; those connections that you had in childhood; those connections that bound you with awe and reverence to the wonder and the mystery that surrounds you?

The only thing that is keeping you from once more opening yourself up to the joy and beauty that could be yours is your fear; the fear of disappointment; the fear pain; the fear that once your web has been torn apart you won’t have the strength to spin it out again.

Funny thing that, because the spider doesn’t even question whether or not she has the strength; she simply chooses to spin; stretching herself out to catch every subtle drop of beauty and possibility that is her birthright and accepting the pain as part of what it means to be alive.

Authentic Living 104: Taking Responsibility

 

Look around you.  That’s right, I’m talking to you. Stop what you’re doing right now.  Put down your pen; your iPhone; your preconceived notions of what your life is supposed to look like and take a look at what it actually consists of.

Is this what you were expecting? Be honest now, it’s just me you’re talking to, so you don’t have to pretend.

Did you really want to be working in this dead end job?  Yes, I know, it’s a job, but we both know that this isn’t where you thought you’d be five years ago. No, that’s not something you should be telling your supervisor when it’s time for your semi-annual review, but this is me you’re talking to, and if you can’t be honest with me, then who can you be honest with?

How about the relationship with your significant other?  Ah, I saw that flinch.  I hit a nerve, didn’t I?  Yes I know, they’re a good person and you’re lucky to have them.  Well, that’s what you tell yourself every day, isn’t it?  There an awesome conversationalist; they’re a great parent; they really have a way with animals.  It’s what keeps you going, isn’t it?  And that other stuff; the fact that there are things you can’t talk to them about because they just wouldn’t understand; that they brush off things that are really important to you; that doesn’t matter, does it, because they have other qualities….It’s okay, you can keep telling yourself that.  But do me a favor, would you?  And just stop.  Look at the person you’re with.  Look at them, exactly as they are, not as you would like them to be, not as you hope they will be one day, but as they are, right now.  Is this what you were expecting?  Better yet; is this what you want?

But wait, I’m How about your kids?  What about the place where you are living; your friends; your beliefs about politics your view of God?  How about yourself?  Are you happy with the way that you jump to conclusions so quickly?  Do you really enjoy losing your temper so easily?  Ha – you didn’t like that, did you?  It was fine when I was talking about the external aspects of your life and the things that you deserve or want, but analyzing you yourself isn’t as much fun, is it?  No, don’t turn away from me just because you’re uncomfortable with my questions, I’m not finished yet!

I could go on like this all day you know; making you analyze each and every aspect of your life.  But I’m not going to because that’s not what I’m here for.  But before you get too comfortable and think that you’re just going to go back to the way things were, I have one more question for you:

If you had the power to create the perfect life for yourself how would you go about doing it?

Let’s say that you could be teleported back to the point in your life where it all went wrong; where you started making decisions that turned out to negatively impact your life, what could you do to make sure that your life turned out differently? That’s right; you would have to have made different decisions.  Mind you, you now have the power of hind sight.  You know which decisions negatively impacted your life and which one was the right one to make, and hind sight is not something you possessed when that decision was initially made.  But what if I were to tell you that there was a way that you could have determined – right then and there – as to whether or not you were making the right decision?

Yes, I can see that you are skeptical about it, but would I lie to you?  I can’t lie to you.  In fact, I’m probably one of the only people on earth who can’t lie to you (probably because I am you) but the fact remains, there is a way that you could have known.  In fact, you did know.  The thing is you were not aware of what you knew.  It’s called intuition.

No, intuition is not some sort of New Age mumbo jumbo; it’s that still small voice that prompts you to not trust the person who has offered you the job; the unease in your stomach when you contemplate going out on another date with that person; that hunch that says you really shouldn’t take this road today.  It’s those uneasy moments that we want to listen to but that we always override with cool logic and reason:  It’s a perfectly good job.  You had a good time on your first date; there is no reason to turn them down now.  This is the shortest way to work, don’t be silly!

And then the job turns out to be a soul-sucking miserable job that you can’t quit because it will look bad on your resume.  You end up involved with a neurotic, egotistical idiot that you can’t shake because you don’t want to be responsible for deepening their neuroses, and the shortest road turned out to be the scene of a six car pileup and now you don’t have a working vehicle, and you find yourself really wishing that you had listened to your first instinct after all.

But of course there is no way that you could have known that this was going to happen, so it’s not your fault.  And if it’s not your fault then it’s the fault of whoever you’re working for; involved with; or the guy who hit you, isn’t it?  It has to be, because to realize that it has really your decisions that have been responsible for the direction that you life has taken; for where you are in life right now; means that you have to stop blaming other people for those aspects of your life that are not what you wish they were.

You want to know something else?  (Too bad, I’m going to tell you anyways).  What I need to tell you is that it isn’t just the decisions that you made in the past that you need to regret.  It’s the decisions that you are making every single day; the decisions that you are making right now that are ensuring that your life is not going to get any better.

Yeah, think about that one for a minute.  Sort of scary, isn’t it?  I mean, you may have made one decision to ignore intuition and it led to others that led to others until you found yourself in so deep that it seems impossible to extract yourself.  But it’s not as hopeless as it may seem.  Not really.  There actually is a way out.

I don’t care how messed up your life is right now.  I don’t care how big a mess you’ve made of things.  I don’t care how bad things are, you can change them.  You have the power to change them.  You always have had the power, you just weren’t aware of how to use it.  Do you want to know what it is?  Heh, you already know, but I’ll tell you anyway:  Intuition.

That’s right.  It’s never too late to start using the gift that you’ve had all along; to start listening to the voice that was trying to tell you which path to take.  Mind you, it’s going to be harder now, especially since you’ve tangled up so many other people in your life; have taken on so many responsibilities and obligations, but you can still turn your life around.

No, you won’t be able to create the life you once thought you wanted; the life you saw for yourself when your first started down this path however many years ago.  The decisions you have made between then and now mean that you are no longer the same person that you were, and the life you had imagined for yourself then is most likely not the life you would want now; experience has enriched you; given you a new perspective; helped you to see the bigger picture.

But by learning to once again listen to that still small voice inside your head; that prompting that tells you that this really isn’t the right choice for you, you can stop living a lie and start living from your heart and soul; that place that knows deep down what the right decision is for this moment in time; if you’ll just have the patience to listen to it; and the courage to act on what it tells you to do.

Expectations as a Stumbling Block

“The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” 

~ Eli Khamarov

You have been planning something out – you’ve made plans and arrangements and have been getting excited about the upcoming event then something happens; something that throws a wrench into the works and the plans are canceled. How do you react?

Civil rights activist Eliot Larson once said that “Anger always comes from frustrated expectations,” and he had a point. I’ve met people who go absolutely berserk when confronted with a disappointment, others who sulk or get depressed, and some few who are able to shrug it off and move onto something else. Which begs the question, what, exactly, ties us to the outcomes of certain situations?

Why is it so important that something happen in the way we’ve been planning out? And why do so many seemingly attach all of their hopes and dreams to these expectations and get so worked up about it when they don’t turn out the way that they expected?

Attachment is the answer and the key to this question.  We are not content simply to let events unfold as they are supposed to, but insist on trying to shape events to meet up to our expectations.  The thing is that everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to; without our help.  We simply have to trust that the universe is arranging events in the way that they are supposed to happen and listen to that inner voice before we take any action and trust that it is leading us in the direction in which we are supposed to go.

When we do this, all the bumps and kinks go out of our lives and things start falling into place with an alacrity that some may find alarming, but also exhilarating, for finally you are living the life that you are supposed to live.

But it is not only events that we attach our expectations to. We also tend to attach expectations to individuals. We build them up in our head as being a certain thing, and then, when they don’t live up to those expectations; when they do or say something that shatters this illusion, we snap, accusing them of being or doing something that has absolutely no basis in reality.

The worst part about attaching personal expectations to an individual, however, is when you accept the unrealistic expectations that others have of you; when out of fear or obligation you attempt to live up to their hopes and dreams of you (or for you) even if those hopes and dreams are not your own.

To do so is probably the worst thing you can do, for when you take on others’ expectations for you, not only do you cease to grow yourself, but you also stunt their growth, for by relying on you to do or be certain things for them, you keep them from discovering the true extent of their own personal power. Perhaps it was Frederick Perls who summed this up most succinctly when he said “I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine.

Sound selfish? If you adhere to society’s definition (which relies heavily on individuals plugging themselves into a particular slot and then fulfilling the expectations of that definition), then yes, it is selfish.  But if instead you adhere to the wisdom of the universe and are listening to its guidance in your individual lives, then you will be able to say with the Dali Lama:

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.”

And in opening yourself up to the true nature of reality; to the true nature of the universe, you will find yourself living a far more authentic and meaningful life than anything you could have dreamed up for yourself.

The Chrysalis Effect

There comes a point in the life of certain caterpillars, when they have eaten enough; when enough nutrients have been stored, then the caterpillar reaches begins to spin a silk pad on a leaf or twig and proceeds to hang itself upside down from this pad.  Slowly it begins to molt its outer skin, leaving itself encased in its green chrysalis.

The creation of the chrysalis itself is an incredible process, for this is not just some special substence that the caterpillar excreets for the job; what it is is the caterpillar’s own skin transformed into this hard green shell.  The caterpillar willingly unraveles itself so that it can allow the change to occur.

Inside the chrysalis an amazing transformation takes place. The caterpillar’s body does not just undergo a complete and total physical transformation; its body completely breaks down into a “soup” of cells which, over the next few weeks reconstruct themselves into a butterfly.

The caterpillar doesn’t resist the pull of change; the instinct to stop eating and begin the next stage of its journey. It doesn’t lament what it will lose by ceasing to become a caterpillar, nor does it try to justify why it should continue its existence as a caterpillar when its heart is telling it that it’s time to let go. One other thing a caterpillar does not do is to worry about helping other caterpillars to recognize and listen to their own instinctual pull.  Instead it simply acts on its instinct and trusts that this is the best thing that could happen at this particular moment in time.

No, the caterpillar does not resist.  It simply stops what it’s doing; no matter what it’s doing.  It stops with no fanfare mid crawl; mid bite; and begins to spin its silk pad, letting everything it was dissolve into nothingness, trusting that the universe will take care of the details, and proceeding to move on to the next state of existence. It surrenders to its heart and in so doing begins the most important transformation of its life.

So too does there come a point in the life of every individual when they are prompted by signs from the universe; indeed by the urgings of their own heart to simply stop being who and what they are; to surrender themselves to the transformational power of their inner-being.  When they do heed the signs they begin to undergo an incredible transformation; a spiritual evolution that will turn their world upside down.

This transformation is not always pleasant.  In fact, sometimes it can be downright painful, for the changes involve breaking you down; stripping you of every thought, every belief, even those relationships that you associate with being you.  It will strip you of everything; reducing your ‘self’ to a protean soup of possibilities, and then will reconstruct you into the ‘you’ that you were always meant to be.

But here is the amazing thing, instead of losing your ‘self’ during the transformation, you emerge on the other side more ‘you’ than you could ever have imagined being, and with an understanding and a perspective that would have been impossible in your old way of being.  Suddenly you can see what it was that you were missing; why it was that your old life never seemed completely satisfaction.  And once your wings have dried in the sun of understanding, you will shake them out; spread them wide; and begin to fly.

 

©Stephanie S. Henry 2012