Do you give isolation gifts? You’ll need what my friend gave me.
I hope you are well. If you or people you care about are experiencing isolation or anxiety, here’s something I trust you’ll find helpful.
This includes a brief but profound piece written by Danaan Perry about accessing the best of yourself during transition. It seems incredibly timely, right now. This is Chapter 22 of my book, Free the Genius.
I’m re-gifting a valuable gift from a friend.
When I went through a divorce many years ago, I fought hard to avoid the chaos and public humility I was anticipating.
I felt like a pathetic failure.
I holed myself up in a friend Virgil’s apartment in Chicago hoping the world wouldn’t notice if I just disappeared. I’m sure I looked pretty foolish trying to hide and hold everything together rather than move toward my next phase of life.
Perhaps you’ve tried this move once or twice, yourself? If you’ve ever fallen on your face publicly, you know what I’m talking about.
Essentially, I was fighting change.
If you are resisting change or living through a tough transition, this applies to you, too.
Then one morning, a gracious gift appeared in my inbox.
A friend who noticed I was avoiding the inevitable thoughtfully emailed me a short essay/poem to read. Everything changed after reading it.
In the years since then, I’ve dusted this off for hundreds of clients who were experiencing their own tough transition. They always thank me. Every time I share it, I use that as an excuse to re-read it.
Take a minute to enjoy this piece of poetic profundity right now. It’s a brief but valuable read—worth reading now and saving to re-read during every tough transition.
Sadly, the author is no longer living, but he must have been a wise man.
The Parable of the Trapeze*
Turning the Fear of Transformation into the Transformation of Fear
by Danaan Parry
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.
Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life.
I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.
But every once in awhile as I’m merrily (or even not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar and move to the new one.
Each time it happens to me I hope (no, I pray) that I won’t have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and, for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar.
Each time, I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing I have always made it. I am each time afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between bars. I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. So, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”
It’s called “transition.” I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.
I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing,” a noplace between places. Sure, the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that’s real, too. But the void in between? Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible?
NO! What a wasted opportunity that would be. I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.
We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore. —Anonymous
So, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition between trapezes. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the word. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.
*The Parable of the Trapeze is taken from the book Warriors of the Heart by Danaan Parry and used with permission. The book may be purchased at the Earthstewards Network website, www.earthstewards.org. Please do not use without specific permission from the Earthstewards Network. To discuss permission, contact email@example.com.