Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Out of darkness comes the light

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious. Carl Jung
In the world of darkness, there is light. And in a world of light, there is always darkness. I work in a world where darkness blocks the light. Addictions. Mental Illness. Ego. Pride. Fear. Poverty. Abuse. Self-denial. All of this, and more, inhibit individuals from stepping outside the darkness into the light of consciousness rising -- whether they are homeless or not.

Yesterday, I stepped into my office and it felt like the intervening months had not passed. It felt like time had simply stopped still, waiting. Nothing had changed and yet, everything was different.

I walked across the second floor and was greeted by many of the same faces. I walked through the halls and saw new faces and faces I hadn't seen in awhile.

"How are you?" I asked one man. A former client, he regularly came in to volunteer. He was always cheerful. Always talked about the joy of 'giving back'.

"Considering that I'm back to live," he replied. "Not so great."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I replied. "What happened?"

And he went on to tell me a tale of how his roommate of seven years ripped him off. "I don't get it," he added. "I didn't do anything wrong. Why did this have to happen to me?"

What if it isn't about wrong, or right. What if it's not about it happening 'to me'. What if it's reality? This, what I've got right now, is my life, right now. If I want it to be different, what am I willing to do differently?

Within each of us there exist dreams and aspirations. Goals and wishes waiting to be fulfilled. We tell ourselves. "Next week, next month, next year... I'll take that step. Quit that addiction. Move away from where I'm at to where I want to be. Not yet. I'm not ready. The stars are not aligned. The frost isn't on the pumpkin. The apple hasn't fallen from the tree..."

We wait and wish and hope and yearn for something different. We look at all that is wrong, unfulfilled, incomplete, undesirable in our lives and sentence ourselves to more time. In the prison of our fear that this life is all we'll ever get, we hold ourselves captive to staying stuck in this moment where we don't want to be.

Everything that's going on your life today is of your own creation. This is your reality. This is your life. If you don't like it, are you willing to shine some light on what's going on and step out of the darkness of denial, fear, self-sabotage -- whatever it is that is keeping you stuck?

I have a friend who hates his job. But.... and there's that ole' butt. Sitting down where it doesn't belong! But, it's a job, it pays the bills. The economy sucks there are no jobs in his area of expertise. He's too old to change. He's only got eight years left before his pension kicks in. It's not his fault management is so... blind, stupid, backward...

Imagine eight years of sitting in a place you hate. Imagine eight years of waking up every morning loathing the idea of where you're headed for your day. Imagine carrying that load with you, where ever you go.

And now, imagine coming home with that load of anger, sorrow, regret, sadness, fear. Imagine it corroding your insides. Eating away at your joy. Imagine walking in your front door, looking for a place to deposit it but it won't leave you. It's yours. No one else wants it.

What do you do?

Some of us will drown it in an addiction. Some, will douse it with bursts of anger. Others will slip into a semi-conscious state, whiling away the hours watching mindless chatter on TV until sleep is our only surcease. We'll get creative, or so we think, with how we ease our pain, and in the end, we'll still have spent another day, another hour, another moment hating our lives, and everyone in it as we kill ourselves off with every waking thought.

It doesn't have to be that way.

I can be different.

It is our choice.

My eldest daughter gave me some really good counsel last night. She turned my mirror back on me and asked me, "Can you hear yourself?"

Yes I can.

I have the power to make change happen in my life. I have the power to do it differently.

We all do.

For the next four days, I am going to write about one step we can each take to move beyond the darkness of hiding from our light.

What you'll need for today's exercise is a notebook and pen, and a willing mind. find a comfortable place to sit without any distractions. Light a candle if you like, burn your favourite incense, put on soft music and sit quietly for a few moments sinking into the silence. Imagine you are a leaf drifting to the ground. Slowly. Softly. Gently.

Think about one area of your life where you feel unhappy, dissatisfied, that you'd like to change. Now, in your mind, move yourself forward one year. Imagine you're feeling exactly the same. Move another year forward. Feeling the same. Do it, until you can't move forward any more with those feelings. (You may go three, five, eight, ten years forward. There is no right nor wrong place to get to.)

When you get to that place where you can't move forward, open your eyes, and your notebook to a blank page, and write down how you were feeling at the end of your mental pathway. Write down everything. Be honest with yourself. Be open.

When you've finished writing, draw a line down the next page making two equal columns. On the left side, write down the words describing your emotions. Angry. Sad. Frustrated. Pissed off... On the right side of the column, write the emotions that describe how you'd like to be feeling about your life in three, five, eight, ten years. Happy. Fulfilled. Energized. Fabulous...

At the bottom of the right column, in big bold letters, write: All of this and everything better!

For the rest of the day, focus on All of this and everything better. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at what is holding us to one side of the page.

The question is: Are you willing to shine some light on what ails you? Are you willing to step into the darkness to find your light?

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