On Derailment and Discovery

Growing wings picture courtesy O magazine columns

Last quarter was just a frenzy of doing and running. It seemed to me that between the launches at work, the festivals, kids, schools and their calendars, the puppy and her training, an advisory board and the madness of the holiday season, I was on some Red Bull trip. Then as is typical when you race too hard, your brakes do get worn out and wheels are wobbly, you will hit that proverbial wall.

I have never had a traffic violation or a speeding charge. So last Feb when the cop told me that my car didn’t have the inspection sticker updated, I thought ok cool, I’ll get it done and went on my merry way. Little did I know that you had to show up in court with evidence. Apparently the reminders went to the wrong address and on the first day of November, we had one of those visits. I wasn’t home but suffice to say, I was shaken up. Of course I got it resolved the next day but that is neither here nor there.

We tend to operate in this invincible mode till something goes out of whack, then we step back and say…whoa, didn’t know that I forgot to do this or missed that and then you realize that you are finite, bounded by the laws of time and space.

That juggling is really for clowns and pacing is for adults. You figure out that if you don’t pace yourself, set your boundaries or set aside time for thought, the rollercoaster ride that you are on can soon derail on any silly Tuesday of the week. Life does hang by a thread and the thickness of the thread depends on your bank account.

Sometimes you need the derailment. It can be quite painful. Suddenly you are not on the constant journey, rushing from one destination to another, from one task to the next, from one person to another. Derailment can throw you out on the pavement and have you curled up in a fetal position waiting for the internal instructions to come through to help you deal with what needs to happen next.

Now internal instructions aren’t always scripted for perfect assembly like that IKEA DIY manual. And if that is not a bummer, internal instructions can also be blocked from our access. It depends on whether while you are in that fetal position, you decide to move forward or decide that the past though uncomfortable was comfortable enough.

Assuming you decide during derailment to seek that instruction manual, then along with a torch light you need some brutal honesty. Light can illuminate or light can be blinding depending on your vision for your journey. Brutal honesty can help you figure out what habits constantly sabotage you. Do you give too much and then complain? Do you take on too many responsibilities and feel overwhelmed? Do you procrastinate and feel the stress? Are you too passive? Are you too defensive? Are you resentful? Are you a victim, a critic, a martyr, a cynic, a interrogator? You can play 20 questions and if there is enough honesty as the answers come forward, the next steps become more intuitive. Of course, that does not mean that the next steps will be easy or that you can see the entire path unfold within sight of that pot of gold.

But that is the journey of discovery. We always think that we can change for someone else but what is more important is to change for your self. That is the only change that is believable and sustainable.

To sum it up, here is a great extract from Martha Beck

I used to think I knew how some caterpillars become butterflies. I assumed they weave cocoons, then sit inside growing six long legs, four wings, and so on. I figured if I were to cut open a cocoon, I’d find a butterfly-ish caterpillar, or a caterpillar-ish butterfly, depending on how far things had progressed. I was wrong. In fact, the first thing caterpillars do in their cocoons is shed their skin, leaving a soft, rubbery chrysalis. If you were to look inside the cocoon early on, you’d find nothing but a puddle of glop. But in that glop are certain cells, called imago cells, that contain the DNA-coded instructions for turning bug soup into a delicate, winged creature—the angel of the dead caterpillar.

If you’ve ever been through a major life transition, this may sound familiar. Humans do it, too—not physically but psychologically. All of us will experience metamorphosis several times during our lives, exchanging one identity for another. You’ve probably already changed from baby to child to adolescent to adult—these are obvious, well-recognized stages in the life cycle. But even after you’re all grown up, your identity isn’t fixed.

Read more here

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