The reason for this blog and today’s post is because we are in a transition; maybe a transformation or evolution? There is enormous change occurring on the planet. The reasons and explanations of why this is occurring are fascinating. There is a wide range and diverse number of rabbit hole perspectives. However, my intent and purpose is not to present or argue a rationale of why or which rabbit hole is best. But to present “how” to get through the hot mess. It’s crazy how I inadvertently ended up with a career specializing in crisis evaluation and consulting; helping folks work through their hot messes… and here we are… in the rodeo!
The central sticky issue for most folks is the change piece. While we all have a background and our entire life is about change and growing, whether or not we like it. As long as change occurs within our normal parameters and understanding, it’s fine. The problem is when there is a gigantic or unexpected shift.
This past week I had a couple of random conversations with acquaintances about significant shifts that had occurred in their lives. The details do not particularly matter, but the process does. Both had the rug pulled out from under them. Subsequently, feeling off balance in a panic; and with a lot of fear of what was going to happen and what were they going to do? Both men eventually worked through it and now being on the other side of the change was huge. They were in a completely different space. They reported episodes of absolute terror but now, they never dreamed that their new life would be so great.
Both noted the hardest part was letting go of their known world. Which despite being crappy, it was better the devil you know even if it was uncomfortable, then facing the devil you don’t know. But at some point, they had to surrender and let go. What they found was that the letting go gave them the space to discover something new. They found out it was really an opportunity to trade up beyond their wildest dreams. And what they had feared was of no real consequence. Their fear was a paper dragon or in psychological terms was anticipatory anxiety or fear, i.e., the fear of fear.
Where does change happen?
Jumping right into it; the gap that is. The gap is where change occurs. Change does not happen if there is no space. If our life is tight, scheduled and filled with all matters of things, there is very little opportunity for change. On the other hand, when life is too tight, cracks appear due to the over bearing stress and pressures. It is in the cracks and open spaces where change begins. The trick is to make space and abide in these gaps/spaces so that change can happen. Currently, it seems to be a hot mess on our planet. Many folks advocate and note just make space within yourself. Breathe deeply, take a walk in the woods, lie on the grass, sit in the sun, meditate, introspect, pray, etc. Turn off and turn away from the external chatter of the “messy life” and tune into YOU. You do you. Do what works for you so that you can open up for change.
Why does change happen?
Change happens because it is the nature of things; is this not self-evident? If one denies this understanding, life can be awful confusing, disorienting and just plain WTH is happening. Or it would inconceivably nothing, boring, zero, zilch… nothing. An interesting and obtuse approach is that of consciousness. Why is there consciousness? If God knows all, is all and there is nothing but God, why is there consciousness and why are we conscious? Why is also the fundamental question of physics, metaphysics, cosmology, religion, etc.; why does physics and all things exist? A while back I wrote a post presenting the question, “What if Earth is the School of Free-will?” It presents the idea that free-will is a learning opportunity for each soul on the planet. Perhaps it is also a learning or novel discovery process for God to discover itself via the randomness of free-will that presents surprises of novel discovery for God consciousness to enjoy and love?
When do changes happen?
It happens all the time… duh. The trick is to know and understand the underlying cycle of change. Knowledge of its phases and movement allows us to recognize opportunities. The opportunities are windows in space and time in which a person can grab, actualize and manifest experiences that are presented. The garden metaphor presented in this blog is a basically a breakdown of the 4 basic phases in which to make something happen. The trick is to understand the dynamic movement and match the task to the season that is presenting. All cultures have some presentation of the idea of change. If a person wants to dive deep into the dynamic movement aspects, look at the I Ching. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chinese-change/
What is change?
We all know what change is; it’s when something happens… lol. Change is movement. On this planet, change happens in cycles. There are many cycles. The solar, day and night; lunar phases of the moon, gardening seasons, galactic astronomical, astrological, financial stock market, life, death and birth, etc. Change is driven by forces. These are dualistic and opposite forces of light and dark; hot and cold; push and pull, love and fear; male and female, expansion and contraction, attraction and repulsion, yin and yang; and so on. Yet, if we elevate our perspective, we can easily see that these opposing forces are just two complementary parts of a whole. Having this larger perspective then allows us to see that change is constant, dynamic and predictable.
Thus, the key issue is your perspective, and at what level is your perspective? Is it at the either/or level. Or do you understand it’s both/and. Thus, the dualistic positive and negative are parts of the whole. Having this slightly elevated perspective of both/and allows for the greater than the sum of its parts. The “whole” perspective can relieve much of the fear and anxiety about change. The elevated perspective allows access to take part in, harmonize and flow with change.
Gravity and Weightlessness:
Much of this discussion about change is easy and intuitive. The hard nut to crack is this. Letting go! WTH are you talking about Timmy? Most experiences in life are that when we let go, we fall. Gravity has taught us when we let go, we fall, crash and burn… or at least hurt ourselves. Or that when we let go, we go crazy. There is no way to know what will happen. This is based on our identification with our physical body and our ego. However, this may not be the case. When we let go we can float, rise and/or become less burdened. We become lighter. Now on this planet, it is relatively rare to float or be weightless. It’s a novel/unfamiliar feeling. We experience weightlessness when jumping in the air, whether on skis, dirt bike, trampoline, parachuting out of a plane, in our dreams, while scuba diving, in a flotation tank, or under hypnosis, etc. But here again, weightlessness might be fun, but it can be disorienting at first and especially if it is your first few hundred times… lol. And often in the back of our mind, we are anxious about the possible crash landing.
Another way to think about this is, if we are holding on, then it is impossible to grab something else. We have to let go of the old worn out “known” before we can grab the next thing or the next adventure. There is a moment or perhaps longer, where we have nothing to hold on to. But this is also the space or gap where the magic happens. We think there is nothing in the gap. It’s like being on the trapeze. Flying through the air without a net at the circus. How in the heck does one fly the air with the greatest of ease? Knowledge, practice and timing. Though we think there is nothing between the swinging trapeze bars. If we know and trust that there will be another trapeze bar coming to grab on to, we can mindfully hang way up in the air and in the gap do some flips and twist before grabbing the next bar. Remember you are experienced. You are practiced. You have been through a lot of change in your past. And timing, being aware of the cycles and how they work can be of great help. You already have the framework and process of change with the gardening metaphor. Just garden, work the process; it’s a way to expand the space and slow the time while in the gap so that it’s not so overwhelming… magic wise.
In performance studies, specifically “flow state,” there are three things. There is the challenge, your skills and arousal. Arousal is brew of stress, anxiety, fear, confidence and excitement. Flow state is when you have a level of challenge that is slightly above your skill set and there is some arousal involved. It is when these three things come together and you pull off the feat. For example, if the challenge is below your skill, then the feat is yeah, whatever, just another day at the office. If the challenge is far beyond your skill set, the only thing you can do is “say yer prayers” and hope you survive the crash landing. The fun of the flow state is that when it happens, everything (time, space and identity) collapses, clicks and there is a distortion or portal that opens into a single endless moment of flow. It’s pure being… it just is. There is no you, there is no challenge and your skills flow intuitively without effort. In the end, you feel elated and alive. In neuro-transmitter terms, you are in a dopamine dump. In addictions, it’s riding the dragon. And in sports or musical performance it’s the jam that spontaneously comes alive, syncs and is beyond your wildest imagination. The basic intent is just to harmonize or synchronize via resonating with what is happening… but with intention. So, the question is, what is your intention? Is it to win, to survive, to flow or maybe to change? Is it possible to flow and change with integrity, compassion and gracefulness? And in the flow, intention also collapses into BEING.
The nut of the matter is that you may not control what happens, but you have control of how you respond to and interact with what happens. Basically the Serenity Prayer. No matter what you think is happening or how you feel about what is happening, you are the one responsible for your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You are the one dropping into taking part in and jamming/sync’n/harmonizing with BEING the flow.
In crisis management, the standard procedure is to first stop, observe and analyze what has/is happening, e.g., the first step in CPR training. The professionals then go into triage mode. Which is determining what is happening, what can and cannot be done; do what will change the outcome. Basically, it is determining, no matter what you do, it won’t have an effect. And no matter what you do, it will be alright. However, the most important is to focus on doing things that will change the outcome. Experienced Pros can quickly triage and then calmly and methodically make the magic happen. But the focus is not on the magic outcome, but on the abiding in the gap and processing, i.e., looking for and actualizing opportunities that emerge to make and change the outcome.
Crisis, Pro Tips:
First, be calm, use your wits, it’s ok to take some time. It’s the adage of go slow to go fast. It’s better to figure out what is happening on the front end than to chase your tail on a wild goose chase. If you are not experienced, use your best discernment and judgment. And again, don’t worry, even the pros find themselves in the middle of an unfamiliar experience. Sometimes it’s better to do nothing until it becomes clear what you must do. This is basic 101 decision making; use your head, heart and gut and if it still doesn’t make sense. Exercise, the fourth option of waiting and do nothing because the stew is not done cooking. Meaning wait for more information to develop, then it may become clear of what to do.
Second-level response for operating in the gap is to observe, analyze, synthesize, innovate, adapt and execute. Work the gap, be methodical and abide in the gap and grab the best opportunities you can as they emerge. Work the process, not the goal; be mindful. The process will get you to the goal. You will know when the goal is attained. Failure is assured if you do not try. And the biggest failure is not to learn from the failure.
Back to the two random conversations. Both men had the rug pulled out from underneath them. And for a good amount of time, they felt disoriented, overwhelmed, at a loss of what to do. They felt like a failure, questioning themselves, depressed, anxious, hopeless and with suicidal thoughts. Which is normal and to be expected. Both noted that when they finally got exhausted and “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” there was no option but to let go and surrendered because they could no longer hold on… their past was dragging them down. When they let go, things started opening up. Opportunities emerged and they could see that their experiences were actually lessons preparing them for the next step in their journey. And thus, able to recognize, appreciate and grab on to these new opportunities. Though the point is, they learned you don’t have to hold on until the bitter end. You can let go earlier, step into and play in the gap.
A big change coming at us. The trick is to step into the gap and abide. You don’t have to hold on to the past for dear life. Perhaps it’s better to just recognize that the past ways of being are no longer useful but were a lesson. And if we do not learn from our past, it doomed us to continue to repeat them. To get ahead of the coming change, abide in the gap, be mindful of a new cycle of opportunities that are emerging. This is not your first rodeo, nor will it be your last. But taking part in this rodeo will be quite the bull ride.