Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Shape of Transformation

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.”

The quote is by the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and it is true about every hurdle and curveball life throws at us. Every experience we have changes us. The way we see the world alters and we adapt, finding ourselves in another period of transformation, where we become a new version of ourselves. When things get hard, that’s a hope you hold onto… that you will be a better person for it when it’s past.
These storms, these hard moments do not happen to us because there’s some greater reason, or purpose. No deity is pulling strings from behind their curtain in the heavens to manipulate our lives. Sometimes the point simply is that we survive, that we change, and that we become something and someone new to discover. We are the journey.
Everyone’s journey is different. But we all have one. That is a constant truth. We are all muddling through this life together, while we’re here. But it does no good to compare your journey to anyone else’s. It does no good to judge yourself based on where you stand in relation to those around you. It is up to you to reflect on who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. How do you feel about your path? Your choices? Listen to your intuition? Despite what the outside world would say to you, do you feel your feet are moving in the right direction?
We are constantly changing and evolving and it’s good to know where you are in the journey. This time of year, when the cold drives us indoors and the earth slumbers beneath us, is a good time to check in with yourself, to listen to yourself, and see what things you cling to, that you no longer need, that are hurting you.
We think about life and time like it’s a straight line. We’re born, we live, and we die. Especially in genealogical work, that’s what our ancestors become, names on a timeline. But while you’re living life, you understand it’s not a straight line at all. It’s a path that goes up and down and often trails back across itself.
Life runs in cycles, like a spiral going upward around the outside of a glass cup. Always forward, always in motion, even though from an aerial view, the path you are walking looks like a circle, winding around and around without exits to get off. That’s what it looks like and often what it feels like, but it’s actually a line, with revolutions layered atop each other. We often come back to the same places we’ve been before. As we age we revisit these spaces with new and older eyes and the way we perceive our world shifts and opens with each overlap.
We often talk about getting stuck in hamster wheels… but the point is, when we realize we’re repeating unsuccessful patterns, to see it with new eyes and make a different choice so that we do not find ourselves back there again. These are opportunities for us to reshape the parts of ourselves and our lives we’re not happy with. That is when we move up the glass, up the path. The wheel, the circle, the path, the spiral… all of these are among the shapes of transformation.
I talked last week about using petrified wood as a tool in my ancestor meditations. Another fossil I treasure is the ammonite, with its spiraling shell. It reminds me of the spiraling journey upward and inward. It represents the need to move into the darkness to get through it and back out into the light. One of my personal mantras is, the only way out is through. The ammonite reminds me of the labyrinth, turning inward so that I may later turn out with new knowledge.
It’s important for us to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. I am not the same person I was, nor am I the same as the person I will be. But I trust that my feet are walking the path I am meant to walk, and that kindness and compassion are the seeds I am planting. I trust that the world I am leaving behind me is a better world than the one I walked through. I trust that I am leaving the world a better place for those who will come after me. Through every painful transformation, when I fight against giving in to what society wants me to be, I hold tightly to Mother Theresa’s words, because it’s what I believe in my heart of hearts:
"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. Afterall, it was never between you and them anyway."

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