Abandoning the Tribe OR The Hero’s Journey?

Time to Slay Your Dragon?

Time to Slay Your Dragon?

When you think about “going for it” in your life, what is it that stops you?

My subconscious frequently speaks to me in songs. I do my best to listen because, when I do, “wow” are its lessons powerful. (Especially now, with Mercury going Retrograde in Libra on Thursday 9/17/15.)

This morning I woke up with Paula Cole’s song “Me” in my head (see lyrics below).

When I looked up the lyrics, I burst into tears. (“Timely much? Thanks, Fred.” (My Subconscious, a long story… 😉 ))

At this point in my life, I am taking my first tentative steps into the vast, unchartered territory of “Holy Shit”. With these steps I feel I am Abandoning The Tribe… or am I? Could it be that I am taking “The Hero’s Journey” on OUR behalf? WTF am I on about, right?

Every family, or tribe, has their “story”; “the truth about the world” or the glue that holds them all together.

Every family, or tribe, has their “story”; “the truth about the world” or the glue that holds them all together. Much as I love them, my family’s glue has long been “the nobility of poverty” and boldly striving for “success” (especially if it might involve pursuing “financial freedom”) is leaving the safety of the tribe.

But what if I could be the Champion for our family? The Hero that goes beyond the safe borders, who journeys to the land of “there be dragons”, and returns victorious? Able to lift up those that I love the most?

What’s your family’s story?

So, what’s stopping You in Your life? What do you hear day-in and day-out from your tribe? Their spoken, or unspoken “truth” that you won’t even allow yourself to acknowledge, but stepping beyond would result (you think) in being shunned or disowned altogether?

How about another perspective?

What if You are the Trailblazer?

What if You are the trailblazer? The Maverick that changes your family’s story for generations to come? Don’t you owe it yourself, and to them all, to take those courageous steps, to slay the dragon and return victorious?

No pressure. 😉

No one’s telling you that you have to be The One, this isn’t The Matrix (or is it?).

Unless…

Unless there’s a little voice, deep inside of you, that knows you are The One, and then… maybe it’s time to pull out that map and make Your Own Way.

You won’t be alone. Anyone who has ever accomplished something meaningful in their lives has had to step outside of the tribe to do it.

Whenever you courageously strike out and stand up for who You really are, separate and yet a part of the tribe, those who love You will be drawn to your light and they will stand beside you.

Remember… Always Infinite Possibilities, Always Your Choice.

 

“Me” by Paula Cole

I am not the person who is singing
I am the silent one inside
I am not the one who laughs at people’s jokes
I just pacify their egos

I am not my house, my car, my songs
They are only just stops along my way
I am like the winter
I’m a dark cold female
With a golden ring of wisdom in my cave

CHORUS:
And it is me who is my enemy
Me who beats me up
Me who makes the monsters
Me who strips my confidence

I am carrying my voice
I am carrying my heart
I am carrying my rhythm
I am carrying my prayers

But you can’t kill my spirit
It’s soaring and it’s strong
Like a mountain
I’ll go on and on
But when my wings are folded
The brightly colored moth
Blends into the dirt into the ground

CHORUS

And it’s me who’s too weak
And it’s me who is too shy
To ask for the thing I love
And it’s me who’s too weak
And it’s me who is too shy
To ask for the thing I love
But I love
But I love
But I love
But I love
But I love…

I am walking on the bridge
I am over the water
And I’m scared as hell
But I know there’s something better
Yes I know there’s something better
Yes I know, I know, yes I know…

But I Love…

“Me” from “This Fire” by Paula Cole ©1996

Gratitude on Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

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(Originally Posted: 11/30/10; Revised: 11/28/13)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Breaking bread with old friends and family. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving © 1973

As we enter the Holiday Season, I notice people’s mindsets tend to line up along a continuum: one extreme experiences the joy of the season, while the other wants it to be over as quickly as possible.

We all have the potential to delight in the joy of the season, most of us did as children, yet for many, time spent with “family” is fraught with personality differences, challenges and hurt feelings.

I have gratitude for how the season inspires us to rise above our differences and embrace what makes us the same. How often I hear how we are “pleasantly surprised” when things “go well” and everyone “behaves” themselves

As a culture, my holiday wish is for us to embrace what makes us all the same.

On automatic pilot, the American tradition is to gather around the table, stuff our faces, and retire to the couch where we pass out watching a football game. I don’t mean to suggest that there is anything “wrong” with a little R&R. However, the holidays are a time of potential connection, so perhaps we could consider breaking with “tradition” a bit?

This season, whatever your relationship with your family, when you look into their faces, look beyond what you expect to see and peer into their hearts instead. It can be familiar to cast them into their roles where there are sides to take. When we allow ourselves to hold onto hurt feelings, and differences of opinion, when we maintain “our side of the story”, we lose sight of the whole person on the “other side”.

We can get stuck in “the way it is” and maintain a rift, but this saps our strength from other things we could be doing. Pain and anger can become a filter through which we see everything: like living in a submarine and viewing the world through a periscope.

Stop and think: deep down, you know you have learned much in your life. Are you thankful for who you are? All that you have experienced has sharpened your ability to see beauty in the world. All that you have known has informed the person that you are.

It is the same for “them”.

Start a new family tradition: see the whole person in front of you, as you would want them to see you.

This year, we have an opportunity to start a new family tradition: see the whole person in front of you, as you would want them to see you.

See them as they were when they were a child, in their innocence.
Imagine them as they:

  • Played with their favorite toy…
  • Listened to their parents tell them a bed time story…
  • Watched the snow fall outside their window on a winter’s night…
  • Greeted the sunrise on the first day of school…

Have compassion for their journey as the person that they are.

When we look through the periscope at those who have influenced our lives the most, sometimes it can feel like a challenge to give them thanks. (I can hear some of you cursing at me from here!) But consider: you are not defined by a single action, or relationship, so why define them in that way?

What would it be like, for a moment, to see them as you would have them see you: as a whole person, “warts and all”? Yes, there are some who have committed crimes so heinous that it may feel nearly impossible to forgive them, let alone thank them! But consider, just for now, seeing the whole person, not for their sake but for your own.

Every opportunity that expands your perception, increases your ability to change your world.

How can this benefit you? Any opportunity to expand your perception, allows you to see more of the world and more possibilities. Anything that keeps you looking through a periscope challenges your ability to affect your life. Every time you look from a new point of view, your mind broadens and with it your ability to create your world. That is why I want you to see the whole person, both “out there” and in the mirror as well.

So, as we move into the holidays, this season of possible connections, consider giving thanks (if only in your heart) to those that have helped you to become who you are and who you are becoming.

For me, I am grateful for my life, my friends, my family and myself, feeling as I do that it all unfolds perfectly.

I am grateful for you, Gentle Readers. May this season fill you with all the joy of connection!

Remember, always infinite possibilities, always your choice…

If this entry sparked your thinking, I invite you to comment below!

The Dream of the Siren’s Song

The Siren by Waterhouse
The Siren_Waterhouse

Where do you believe you have no choices?

Charmed out of life we see,
No life on earth can be
Hid from our dreaming…

The Siren’s Song1


Dreaming… dreams… so many connotations. There are the “big dreams” we have for our lives, and the dreams we have when we sleep… but there is another form of dream of which we are seldom aware: the dream of the Siren Song. The Sirens, from Greek and Roman mythology, lived on an island and sang enchanting songs to journeying sailors at sea. Their voices could lull even the strongest men into a waking dream so that, before they knew it, the men’s ships were crashing upon the rocks. Once separated from their ships, the men would climb ashore, trapped in the dream and knowing no other choice, they would starve to death at the whim of the Sirens.

What dream are you trapped in believing about your life?


Way back around 600 BC, Lao Tsu wrote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step…”2 I contend that before you are capable of beginning your journey, you must first recognize that you have feet: if you are awake, you have the ability to choose. If you are still caught in that dream… Well, we know what happened to those guys.

Every experience you have reflects the choices you have made that have brought you to where you are right now.

How do you choose where to go on the journey of your life?

The trick is that you have to be awake to recognize that you have choices. So how can you tell if you are awake to life, or continuously hitting the snooze button? Think about those sailors. Your first clue is in whether or not you believe you have choices. If you believe you have none, you are likely asleep.

Some of you will choose not to believe me and will stop reading right… now.

And some of you will continue, because you choose to hear me out, knowing deep down that I’m right.

In your waking dream, you may choose to believe that you have no choices, thereby choosing not to choose. That is your choice. Sometimes the options we have to choose amongst seem like no options at all, but even then, you still live in choice, consciously or unconsciously. Unconscious choices, like dreams, may be harder to recognize, but they are still that: choices.

Understand me here, some of the choices we are faced with feel damned near impossible to make. At every crossroads, however seemingly impossible the choice may be, you always have options. Always.

You choose to be awake, in every moment of your life.

But how do you wake up to your life? Honestly, I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s as difficult and as simple as this: you choose to be awake, in every moment of your life.

We are here to choose. We have been granted the gift of self-awareness (remember your feet?) and therefore the opportunity to choose. We are here to learn from those choices, for isn’t that the outcome of every experience? It’s the choices we make that provide the material for our learning. Is this a spiritual tome? That is your choice to believe. Is this a practical one? Again, you know the answer. What matters most here is that you recognize that you can be “in conscious choice.”

What does it mean, “to be in conscious choice?”

Over the past several days, I’ve found myself writing this sentence several times and my answers are never quite adequate. I also tend to come back to the same response: What does it mean, “not to be in conscious choice?” with similar results.

One thing I’ve been able to find so far is: anytime there is an “I couldn’t do “X” because of “Y” there has been a choice point involved. Think of the “because” as the fulcrum of the choice.

Are you the passenger or are you the driver?

What are the practical implications of living in choice? The short answer is a question: are you the passenger or are you the driver, and who gets to decide where you are going? When you begin to take the wheel of your life in your hands and decide where you are going, you become empowered… and you also become responsible for the choices you did or did not make. And therein lies the conundrum: in order for me to live in choice and to become empowered to make choices, I must first accept that there is no one else to blame.

Ouch.

To be in choice = empowerment = responsibility.

Let’s look at some of this thinking:

“If I am “in choice” and I am empowered in my life, then I am responsible for the outcome of my choices.
If I am responsible for the outcome of my choices, then I am ultimately the cause of my own unhappiness.”

(Your inner Saboteur ready to slap me yet? Mine sure is.)

I think that when most people start to consider this concept of living in choice, that last point stops them and they can’t see past it. But because we are in choice right now, how else could we move this forward?

“If I am the cause of my own unhappiness, then I am also the source of my own happiness.”
If I am the source of my own happiness, then I can make choices every day that will bring me to that place.”

This is the path of authenticity. It takes tremendous courage to continue along this path as the dream of the Siren’s Song is ever calling out to us.

Every one of us has been lulled at one time or another by the song of the Sirens and it remains a constant choice we make each day to overcome. Will I allow myself to be lulled by that song that tells me that “I am not responsible, I don’t have to do anything to change my life, there are no choices to make because I am stuck in this mess and there is no way out: I am a victim of circumstance.”

It’s a spellbinding song and it has most of us in its grip. The reason it’s so hard to shake has much to do with our fear of making the wrong move, of getting hurt, of messing it up. And I contend that therein lays our most powerful learning. Think of a baby taking it’s first steps: “splat”, “WAAA…! Wait a minute? I was walking! I’m gonna get back up and do it again!” If the baby never tried or simply just lay there, what do you suppose would happen?

Making powerful choices requires an initial leap of faith as we look around us and we see so many people asleep in the arms of the Siren.

This is why I love the film “The Matrix”, though it does have one fatal flaw. In the film, the vast majority of humanity is literally “plugged in to the dream” as it is supplied by the machines. The people don’t know what they don’t know. Neo has no idea of the challenging life he is choosing when he enters into the “real world”.

Here’s the fatal flaw of the film; the Wachowski Brothers have inverted the message. While the world of the machines is filled with the illusion of nice stories designed to keep us asleep, the “real world” of choice is bleak and filled with horror, pain, hardship and fear. “Who in their right mind would choose to live there? (is the subtle suggestion) Far better to live where there is pleasure, however fleeting… go back to sleep, gentle viewer, this world of choice is just too painful and belongs only to the realm of fantasy.” (How ironic that a film that could’ve awoken us simultaneously encouraged us to go back to sleep?)

Remember my essay entitled, “So, what’s your Story?” Therein we discussed the Stories we choose to believe about our lives and why we live the way we do. When you heed the Siren’s song and you allow yourself to become trapped within a Story, you cut off all other options.

The message of the Siren (much like that of the “machines”) keeps us in bondage, but there is far more to being in choice than pain, and fear. When we push ourselves to shake off that dream, and step boldly into a life of choice, while there will be challenges, the beautiful options we consciously design for ourselves represent possibilities as wide, or as limited, as our own imaginations!

Always infinite possibilities… always your choice.

Credits:
Painting: The Siren by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

1The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason: page 84. Copyright © 2007, 2010 by Zachary Mason.

2http://thinkexist.com/quotation/the_journey_of_a_thousand_miles_begins_with_one/214527.html