**Sorry about the 'alien speak' - I have fixed the oops and you should be able to read this post now**
No I have not started circus training, although that would be crazy fun wouldn't it?! I did stumble upon a piece of paper that a former colleague (the first teacher I worked with, a man named Jim who I truly admire) printed off and passed my way many years ago. I think he may have given it to me when I was just beginning to contemplate going back to school to work on my degree, or maybe it was was when I began talking marriage... or maybe... well you'll get the point when you read the words for yourself in just a minute.
I remember vividly reading The Fear of Transformation this for the first time and nodding my head thinking just how accurate it was. I haven't looked at if for years and do not remember when I stuffed it into the space next to my CPU but just a moment ago I tipped a pile of CDs over and while grumbling about having to stick my hand into the unknown I found it once again.
It's a little bit long but worth the read.
From The Essene Book of Days
Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the 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 ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It's empty, and I know, in that place that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness going 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, I 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 moment in time 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 unknowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on the unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyways. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyways because somehow, to keep hanging onto 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 gong, the future is not yet here." It's called transition. I have come to believe that it 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 punched.
I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "no-thing", 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 gotten through as fast as possible. 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, 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 savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most 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, any 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.
I think it's funny that I found it today because I'm in between bars right now but finally instead of feeling the intense stress, discomfort and confusion I felt the last time I was in between bars (a 3 year gap filled with full-time work and full-time school) I have given myself "permission to 'hang-out'" and it truly is enlightening... I think I just might be learning to fly.