The egg shell half was a brilliant blue. I reached down and gently lifted it into my palm, carrying it home from my walk with the dog. When the dogs master returned home, I donated it to him. The 9 year old boy exclaimed over the egg shell for half a minute, then placed it on a shelf and excitedly tore into his waiting packages from Amazon. Showing off his new sushi shaped plush toys, my gift was quickly forgotten.
Switching house and dog sitting jobs, two days later I found a 12″ fully intact snake skin. I wrapped it carefully around my arm as I walked back to the house where I was staying. I considered donating it to the dogs masters, a trio of young boys, but my memory of the discarded and forgotten bluebird egg made me hesitate.
These gifts were meant for me. I knew the snake skin was a powerful symbol of transformation, and if anyone was in need of shedding an old skin, it was me. I’ve felt stuck, depressed, sad and lonely. Happy for no reason had turned into feeling frustrated and stagnant.
The bluebird egg was to reassure me that even in my darkest hour, things will get brighter. The snake skin serves as a reminder it’s time to shed outgrown beliefs and habits. Butterflies have started appearing not only on my walks, but outside my window. Again, I am encouraged to break out of my chrysalis and begin a new metamorphosis.
I felt the first hint of fall in the early morning a few days later. The cool breeze brought both sadness and happiness. The season will soon change; the tree leaves turning a brilliant color before dropping to the ground. Nature cycles and so do I.
So often in life, I resist these times of feeling sad for no reason. It is customary to either try to figure out why we’re feeling down so we can fix it, or to ignore how we’re feeling. Most often I just mask my feelings by staying busy, binge watching another show, drinking just a little too much wine, or checking out of life by playing on-line poker.
This all leads to making myself feel worse by beating myself up. Ironically, self-criticism often leads to even more of the very behavior I wish to avoid. It is its’ own mini-cycle of self-defeat and stagnation.
I suspect for many of us, if we’re not careful we can get caught in this pattern and rarely emerge. Certainly it’s easier to ignore the warning signs that we need to make a change and simply stay in perpetual motion. If we spend our time running from our underlying sadness, we risk becoming a husk of nothingness.
I am not one who easily delves into my emotions. I tend to stay cerebral and choose a perspective that brings me happiness. I freely admit I’m often guilty of what John Welwood calls “spiritual bypassing” — using the goal of awakening or liberation to rationalize what he calls premature transcendence: trying to rise above the raw and messy side of our humanness before we have fully faced and made peace with it.
I’m not sure we can ever fully make peace with the “raw and messy” side of our humanness until we fully accept that this being human means we go through a myriad of emotions and cycles of awareness and forgetfulness. Most of us walk around with these ideals of perfection. Holding both ourselves and others to those ideals results in a continual experience of disappointment and pain.
Life is already hard enough without our internal judge. We are often dealt hands that give us plenty of reasons to be unhappy. Certainly our attitude towards what is happening makes a huge difference in our ability to cope, but sometimes things just fall apart. Shit happens.
I’ve become aware of how often I worry about the other shoe falling, even before the first one has dropped. For such a positive person, I can be a hypochondriac and worry-wart. I alternate between this incredible peacefulness in loving all that arises and this icky anxiety that my life is going nowhere and my future will be as a poor, desolate old woman.
I lay awake at night with insomnia, unable to turn off my chatter box. I worry about my future. I question my present reality. I toss and turn.
I am being churned and what saves me is my knowing that in both my good and bad times: this too shall pass. I accept my sadness and allow my anxiety. I continue to work with my awareness of when I’m slipping into old patterns and release judgement of myself. I see the signs and know change is on the horizon. I can embrace it or resist it, but it’s coming either way.
When I am here — in this icky and uncomfortable place of feeling sad or discontent — it helps to remember everything is temporary. It only seems eternal when we forget to just allow it to be and accept that it is what it is. Sooner or later, things will change.
My catharsis comes through acceptance. We each have the ability to move through the darkness when we can remember that somewhere there is light, even when we can’t see it. Our journey through the difficult passages of our life is not made easier by denying the reality, but through understanding that reality is ever changing.
But nothing will appear to change if we reject our experience or ourselves. And if we pretend that everything is okay when it’s not, we perpetuate an illusion that can keep us stuck in misery. Can we allow ourselves to be human and find compassion for ourselves and others?
I let go of the expectation that I need to always have it all together or have all the answers. I’m happy and love my life. I’m sad and I am lost. I am up and I am down. I think I’ve found nirvana and I think I never will.
Allowing for the contradiction and paradox, I surrender. What if each of us could be so brutally honest with ourselves and with each other?
I don’t know what is coming or what will emerge from the transformation I’m feeling. But I’ve learned to be comfortable with uncertainty, even when I don’t like it. I’ve learned to embrace the mystery of not knowing. And I’m learning to accept the sadness of letting go of old forms.
It will be interesting to see what emerges …