When did you last experience being swept up in an emotional tidal wave of attraction and excitement, pushing you out of your comfort zone right into the arms of turmoil and chaos? Just like the little girl that impulsively shoves at a swing only to have it hit her in the face, leaving a nasty bruise.
And were you then immediately caught in the battle between being propelled forwards on this deeply emotional drive and the need for stability and peace.
At first glance it appears that being human is all about the balance between the innate psychological longing for security and the deep evolutionary impulse to be curious and push the boundaries of our known world a little further.
It starts from the moment we are conceived, when we soon face the biggest battle of all, in the very process of being born. We leave the safe confines of our mother’s womb and struggle our way into birth. Into human life. And that’s just the start!
This emotional, libidinal drive is especially strong at this time of year, when the champagne bubbles of spring once more awaken us out of our winter sleep. And it sweeps us up on a tide of longing for new or renewing relationships, new jobs, or any other kind of adventure. And it carries exactly the same energy as the developmental drive that got us up on our tiny toddler feet and out into the world. A world where occasionally the swing swings back and hits us smack in the face. And when that happens, be it for a moment or for a lifetime, the desire for peace and stability takes over, trying to make us repress the irrepressible urge to be fully and truly alive, which can lead to anxiety and ill health.
But if repressing it makes us sick, and expressing it leads to chaos and turmoil, what then do we do with this explosive impulse to evolutionary lustfulness, be it sexual, emotional or even spiritual?
The problem is that we look outside of ourselves for stability and inner calm. When life flows calmly by, we believe ourselves to be stable and solid, safe in our little life bubble of contentment. We may even say to ourselves, ‘I must be doing something right’, appeasing the Gods or the Fates, although we have no idea what it is we did. And then, when life inevitably hits us smack in the face, we feel cheated and wonder where we went wrong, and who we need to blame.
The truth is that if we have the courage to truly ride the swings of life, we find that they are always in motion. Taking us high up into the soaring, butterflies-in-the tummy heights, only to plunge us back into the depths and out again. It’s nothing we ‘do’ or don’t ‘do’, it just is. So it’s not either/or, stability or progress, it is seeking the place of stability inside yourself as you explore the chaos of moving forward.
The truth is ‘in there’
Do you recall swinging to your heart’s content, propelling yourself upwards and then plunging back in freefall to experience a moment of zero gravity? Remember that stomach churning, exhilarating feeling, somewhere around your solar plexus? Physicists tell us that this is caused by the interaction between the fixedness of the chains to the frame, and the movement of the swing with you on it. With apologies to all the physicists out there, you might loosely say that your stomach registers the centre of gravity around which the motion of flying upwards and downwards pivots.
And that is a beautiful metaphor for finding true stability and peace, right there within the exhilarating movement and turmoil of being fully alive as a human being. Because finding your centre of gravity will help you to ride the waves of life without feeling lost or imbalanced. And finding that centre means looking ‘in here’, not ‘out there’!
If your life consists of nothing but chaos and turbulence, rippling out into the lives of others, then finding this core is essential before you burn yourself and your loved ones out completely. And if you’ve frozen yourself into a state of anxious repression, then finding this core will once more open you up to your own inner robustness and strength in the face of any disaster. Once you know how to anchor yourself in this central inner core and once you learn how to master the raging evolutionary fire without dousing it, you will find that you are no longer overwhelmed but instead experience compassion and joy in the ride, be it up, or down.
We’re all in it together
When you realise that life’s stability comes from deep within you, from your attitude to life, from a deep acceptance of everything that it brings, be it suffering or joy, then peace and compassion can reign in even the deepest turmoil. This attitude shift puts you right there in the eye of the storm, one part of you quietly observing, witnessing and learning, while the rest of you experiences the peaks and the plunges in your stomach. You still experience them, but you no longer identify with them, nor try and make others accountable for them. Such people walk into scenes of the utmost chaos, armed with the spirit of accepting compassion for their own and others’ suffering, and do what needs to be done, knowing that it is not the external imbalance that really wounds, but the internal one.
So even though it may sometimes feel as if life has it in for you. It doesn’t. It’s not your crisis, not your chaos, you’ve not been singled out to be the victim of circumstance. We all are. Because we are all human. Everyone who has the courage to follow that deep instinctive drive to push the boundaries of experience, from a place of heart, rather than fear, knows that they may well end up being smacked square in the face. But it is in that shared humanity that we can become strong and robust, finding solidarity with one another, becoming a resource to one another, familiar enough with the painful aspects of the ride to be able to hold the space with the joy that is also part of that journey.
It is out of the darkest of nights that the light pours forth on our humanity and helps us dance with the spirit of progress.
Same swings, same life, different attitude. So, stop making it personal, stop making it about you. Don’t go out there and blame the world, and most importantly, don’t blame yourself. As the champagne bubbles of spring awaken you out of your sleep, be brave, go out there and be fully alive. Live from your heart, not from fear. And if you get hurt, shake it off as you would have done your toddler tumbles that taught you to walk.
Spring is a time of new beginnings, building on the cycles of what went before, because progress and chaos go hand in hand in a deeply creative process called life. And it is life that we are called to live, fully and courageously, from a place of inner stability and calm.