What needs to happen today for me to become more of me? To me, life is all about shedding: shedding roles, shedding skins, cloaks, crusts, and predicaments to reach the true essence of self. Think of a fruit surrounded by a tough skin, a bitter skin, a sour skin. If we did not remove the skin we would not be able to enjoy the delectable sweetness of the fruit within. Shedding the skin and figuring out who we truly are takes work. In my case it took a full and deep shamanic recapitulation into my very soul, into the darkest self where I met my enemy and went to battle against what had been living inside me my entire life. The process was one of shedding the fearful enemies that hid so well inside. No one but I really knew of their existence, no one but I dealt with them daily, no one but I kept them imprisoned inside me.
I continue my shedding process every day as I ask myself: What can I shed today?
Last week a very subtle inner shift allowed me the freedom to become a little more of the me that I have been allowing to emerge and live. This is autumn, a time of great shedding and most meaningful change and transition. Synchronistically, in the news, Amanda Knox, a young American woman convicted of killing her roommate in Perugia, Italy four years ago, was released from prison. After a long and difficult period of truth-seeking a simple reversal of the decision made four years ago—guilty or not guilty—sent her back home to Seattle, a free woman. Though that decision was deeply meaningful and simultaneously controversial, when it came down to the verdict it was one spoken word that set her free. I see this case as a metaphor for our times, underscoring the need to make decisions that allow for drastic change. These times ask us all to question deeply, ourselves and our world, to find out the truth and to act on it. I have no idea what her truth really is, no one will ever know except Amanda Knox herself perhaps, but we can all learn from her story.
The other day, someone, in a rather accusatory tone, questioned me: “Why are you so fabulously happy all the time?”
“Well,” I said, “I’m done with despair and besides, I spend most of my time with one foot in this world and the other in the ecstatic, why wouldn’t I be happy?” It was all too much for my questioner to fathom.
I didn’t just wake up one day and find myself straddling these two worlds; not at all, I had to go through the deepest, darkest despair to arrive at this place of light and balance. But it was always my choice to take the journey that led to this place, in a gradual yet intentional process of shedding the old self.
So that brings me back to my declaration of independence from Jeanne as teacher and guide that I so boldly declared last week and have, since then, experienced in so many ways. I find that she taught me well. In finally taking her up on her insistence that I could do it on my own, as she so often urged me, I find that I have freed myself from yet one more self-imposed imprisonment. I freed myself from a role that in reality only I was attached to. And all it took was months of inner struggle!
We do tend to imprison ourselves: in labels and declarations, in our student-of-life roles, in our promises that we made a long time ago. It was only in shedding promise after promise that I was able to evolve into someone who is “so fabulously happy all the time.” Although those promises were made when they were extremely necessary, they now no longer serve who I truly am. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t get sad or depressed, but I’ve learned to face the truth with a different outlook now. I take in the broader truth, the long-term perspective that I am a being who is going to die, but also that my life is a never-ending journey. I now, constantly and consciously, focus on urging myself to take the next step, subtle or otherwise.
Who, indeed, can I become today? It may take only a tiny shift in perspective, in action, in thought or inner perception, but it may be a life-changing decision on my part, in the end capable of catapulting me further than I ever thought possible.
As we head into deeper autumn now, as we notice what is happening in the world around us, such as the case of Ms. Knox, can we ask ourselves the same questions that were asked about her? Do I deserve imprisonment for the rest of my life or do I deserve to be set free? What role do I want to play: that of the prisoner or that of the free spirit? The main question, however, is: Where do I imprison myself?
Most of us do keep ourselves shackled to old ideas of the self when, in fact, we’re actually being urged to change, to keep taking the journey of the evolving self.
Who will I become today? If I pay attention to the synchronicities and signs in my life, those that resonate both inside and outside, I may be able to let go of despair, shed an old skin and release the sweetness within, bursting with ripeness.
I face my own shedding process each day as I question myself and ask myself to shed my self-importance or my fear of my evolving spirit, as I once shed old feelings, during my recapitulation, of unworthiness that I did not deserve to walk upon this planet. I take another step each day upon this earth as I wander my path, asking to be guided, knowing that I do indeed deserve to live just this life upon just this planet.
Yes, I fully accept that I am a changing being and that I am a being who is going to die, but before that event I intend to fully live, “so fabulously happy,” as is my choice.