Ramblings of an Old Flower Child – The Backside of the Tapestry
Do you ever wonder about what your life looks like now and how you got here? When you look at the panorama of your life, its quality and what you are invested in, in time and energy, are you content? What is your belief around the “how and why” of your life? What about purpose? Do you believe that we are all actors on a stage and that, “stuff just happens”; or are you an advocate of humans existing as eternal beings that are an integral part of creating the universe? Are you somewhere in between these poles? Regardless of your cosmology, at the end of the day, we all just want to be happy.
I reflect on my dreams for the future, my choices in the present and the consequences of those choices in the tapestry that I have woven so far. I believe that we are all co-creators of our experiences and ultimately our reality. Most things don’t just happen arbitrarily and most things happen in concert with others. Indeed, the nature of everything in life has to do with some sort of relationship.
Yet my life is not about anyone else. I must take responsibility for what I pay attention to and stay focused on. Stringing enough of those moments together manifests in the hour, the day, the month and then the year. In time, patterns develop and repeat in various guises. Up close and personal, the piece is punctuated with various people and specific events. Yet seen from a distance, the tapestry weaves together the patterns into a picture of your life. Right now, I am stepping back to assess not only what fits and what doesn’t but also the dynamics underlying it all. I suppose you could look at it as the backside of the tapestry. For anyone who has done stitching, you will know that an adept’s work looks as together on the backside as it does on the front.
I have looked at my patterns carefully and have done the hard work of changing some of the ones that no longer serve me. For example, de-cluttering my home was a time of letting go and freedom. I was not a hoarder, per se, yet I surrounded myself with things that, on a subconscious level, made me feel safe. Let’s call it stockpiling. I know that it was something that I learned in my childhood and was modeled by a parent. It obviously took me a long time to begin chipping away (I still hang onto food too long) at this entrenched unhealthy behavior.
As I reflect on how I navigate the world, people and events, I see myself walking a fine line between two opposing sides. My primary intention is to look for the positive and situate myself as part of what I understand that to be, e.g. harmony and compassion. An example is my passion for a respectful and loving relationship with animals. I am eating less and less meat as my awareness and affinity with animals deepens. I elevate their rights, along with the wellbeing of Mother Earth, to be equal to humans. On the other side, there seems to be a need, as a citizen of the world, to be informed in current trends. What that looks like (as far as the media depicts) is violence, pervasive elitism and destruction of nature. As I become aware of the seemingly dark forces at work on the planet, I wonder about what to do with it. Is it even my place to impose my version of “truth” and “healthy” on anyone else?
In that vein, I receive all sorts of postings on Facebook and other sources about animal abuse. As a citizen of the world, I have become a member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – notice that they are for ethical treatment, not against abuse). I want to support an organization that is in the trenches doing whatever it takes to stand up for the animals. I don’t have the personality or fortitude that it would take to do much more than empower them. Yet I believe in our power and responsibility as co-creators in and of the universe by virtue of our consciousness. So as I direct my gaze to that injustice, my attention to it translates vibrationally as embracing the atrocities being done to animals. In this way, I fear that as I push against the “bad” (in my humble opinion) I contribute to that dark energy manifesting in the world. Do I then become an agent in perpetuating the human species’ cruelty?
Another angle in all this is my inner vibration. As I push against something (like cruelty to animals), I embrace it. I think about it, talk about it and stress about it. It is the other side of the same coin which ultimately keeps me on that unhappy wavelength. I then become mired in the vibration that I want no part of. It seems that the only way to affect outcome in a positive manner and in a way that does not undermine my vibration is to send love, light or whatever healing energy to the situation. (Of course, the underlying premise is that everyone possesses a divine nature to tap into.)
Yet conflict seems to be inevitable, no matter how much you try to steer clear of it. When something hits the fan in my world, I ask myself things like, “What am I looking at, is this my stuff or the other guy’s and/or what am I creating?” The questions and answers all rely on the context and content of the event. Sometimes, my answer is that I am just a witness and that none of it is anything I need to take action on. When I think of my family, I see a perfect dynamic where most times, my role is to only listen and support. Families are the first and foremost teacher of many things. Once you are at peace with familial relationships, chances are you are at peace with the world and yourself; the centre of all.
In other instances, the drama acts as a messenger for me to learn (or unlearn) something. Most times, the conflict resonates with an old pattern that has reared its ugly head yet again. That usually is a call for paying attention, taking time for reflection and making a change. Most recently I stretched myself much too thin in trying to manage a house, yard and new tenants, a new job, launch a website (while learning impossibly comprehensive software), carry on my responsibilities as Regional Director for my Counsellors Association and walk my dog, all while managing my chronic health conditions. I seemed to be in conflict at every turn and ended up misplacing my purse (happily it was turned in)! It was a huge mirror for me and one that showed me some limitations that I was testing. I realized that my old pattern of “suck it up and charge through” was not working anymore. I had to change. Yikes, that can be a painful process sometimes.
At the same time that I weave my metaphorical threads together, I see my innocence trickle away through the unavoidable process of experiencing life. For example, even though I avoid watching the news (it does not serve me) I read and hear about seemingly insane current events. I actually feel the fear and stress in the world around me, almost like the harbinger of an oncoming tidal wave of colossal change. In the face of that awareness, I struggle to hang onto my vulnerability. That quality is what being childlike is all about. Being vulnerable gives us the openness to step forward into the new. It gives us the wonder to perceive and receive hidden blessings in many forms. It gives us the flexibility to roll with the punches that life inevitably delivers. Without vulnerability we become rigid, righteous and blind to all sorts of opportunities. Our hearts close down and we become isolated in a seemingly hostile world.
Is the glass half empty or half full? Is the world full of beauty and harmony or is it rife with debauchery and injustice? If what I pay attention to becomes my experience and my life, then I want to focus on the positive. So, while I feel a responsibility to be involved (to some degree) in things that I wished were non-existent, I work at keeping my focus, in general, on whatever makes me feel healthy, whole and happy. I am invested in creating not only a worthwhile “fabric” but also one that stands up under scrutiny, both front and back. With that, it is to be hoped that my clarity in choices – in every present moment, one by one – affects the energy around me in a positive way. That would be a bonus. n
Helena Green is a Registered Professional Counsellor in Nanaimo and Vancouver Island Regional Director for the Canadian Professional Counsellors’ Association.