We all know what it’s like to be tested. My experience currently is intense and challenging. Perhaps the quality of character that’s required most of all during challenging times is courage—I believe that word relates to the heart—courage to make the right choices. It seems that we need heroes in this time; and through the opportunities that we have in our own circumstances we can be heroes. I think there are heroes reading these words.
I’ve been thinking about being unencumbered. A few days ago I had an experience while driving along the freeway from my home to the centre of Cape Town, South Africa. I realized that what’s required of me in these days is to be able to move lightly, to be unencumbered, free. I had a whole series of revelations.
My husband and I have recently moved to Cape Town, and in the process of settling into our new home we’ve been unpacking boxes, opening cases and arranging furniture. Out of those boxes and cases come stuff—stuff I haven’t seen for two years because it’s been in storage. Stuff that comes with associations, with connections to people, with relationships—reminders of times past. In some instances they remind me of other incarnations since it doesn’t seem possible that I could ever have been involved with these things as they’re so unrelated to my current experience. Even though my geographical home is now Cape Town, I realize that the essence of who I am doesn’t reside here anymore than it does in places to which I frequently travel, such as the United Kingdom or the United States. Home is not stuff or place, but is something carried within me wherever I am.
This is not a new idea, but what struck me as I was driving was that I have a lot of concepts attached to making home, which are related to my background and upbringing: “When I have a home of my own I’ll have a sewing machine and a food processor, and I’ll bake bread and do everything properly.” I realize this isn’t what’s required of me right now. Yes, I can bake bread; I can do these things. But if I’m carrying forward something that’s no longer fitting for me, these are encumbrances. We must ask of all the forms and structures, beliefs and concepts that we have right now, do they fit? I certainly have some letting go to do around my ideas of what constitutes “home.”
The current world situation is very different from what it was at an earlier stage of my life. These words from an economist in the Financial Times stood out to me:
After the biggest meltdown since the Great Depression, economic theory tells us that world commodity prices should not be this high. But they are—and the West quickly needs to wake up to this new economic reality. Commodity prices are now permanently higher.
This suggests that what used to be the pattern for the world, and perhaps the pattern for my earlier life, is no longer accurate nowadays. You cannot function effectively in the world as it is now if you’re wedded to patterns of thinking and being that were relevant to an earlier time. With respect to the economic crisis, I think much of it has to do with those who absolutely refuse to modify their lifestyle so that they’re living within their means. Demands are made to sustain a level of means (income) so that a customary lifestyle can be sustained at all costs. To move lightly and be unencumbered doesn’t necessarily involve onerous sacrifice, but it may require some prudent adjustments to current realities.
Some other words that I came across recently also merit our attention. This statement was made by David Ian Cowan in his article “Navigating the Collapse of Time.” It seems to have psychological implications.
The fears stirred up by discussion of planetary change and fundamental shifts in time and space are rooted in our physical bodies’ ego-based survivalist programming. Some anthropologists say the ego evolved primarily out of our need to survive in a hostile environment, and it still operates largely in this mode. The ego actually wants you to think you are your body, and that the preservation of that body should be your primary concern.”
I’m reminded of a very basic spiritual tenet: “I am not my body; I am not my mind; I am not my emotions.” But there is programming in our human-nature structure that would have us stay in old patterns. When we can acknowledge and understand this, then we can drop those patterns, move beyond ego and find ourselves in a larger space.
In the intensity of these times rapid change is being asked of everybody—you can see it all around the world. It’s happening in Greece—people on the streets over austerity measures; in Syria, a virtual civil war over regime change; in Vancouver, over education; and in London, over pensions. It’s not what people are on the streets for, or what they think they’re on the streets for. The fact is they are on the streets. The implication of all this is that people are now willing to move out of their comfort zones and ask for, demand, change. This is also being asked of us individually—I know it is of me. As I create a foundation for my living in Cape Town, I’m being asked not to live in Cape Town the way I did ten years, nor to live the way I did yesterday, but to find what works right now in my relationships and in the circumstances in which I find myself.
We do have choices and sometimes these are very difficult choices. You can let the ego in; you can stay under the covers for another five minutes; you can put off what needs to be done. That is a choice. Or you can move with it, lean into it, learn to give up, let go, and drop emotions, concepts and opinions, including the way you were yesterday. It seems to me that with the intense energy moving these days—and it’s demonstrated by those on the streets in various countries—something in human nature is hitting a wall. And something will have to give. It could be said that human beings will have to give—give away the clutter and rigid structures in consciousness and give forth the core reality of themselves in spiritual expression.
I’m reminded of a line from Yeats’ “The Four Ages of Man”: “At the stroke of midnight God shall win.” That’s it. When we hit the wall hard enough—whether it’s in our financial situations or in our understanding of our own psychology—something has to give way. And if, at the stroke of midnight, we stand unencumbered, God does win in our experience.
Image: unpacking boxes via Shutterstock