Our lives push us to constantly ‘gear up.’ We put ourselves into higher gear/high alert and rev our internal motors; we also gear up by acquiring gadgets – stuff we deem necessary to support what we do.
We rarely prepare for change by dumping things and relaxing. Yet there is much to discard: old ideas, old identities, old patterns of being. If we look objectively we see much that no longer serves us. Both the accumulation of ‘stuff’ and the accumulation of outworn identities stifle us, make us feel choked. Yet letting go is hard: instead of seeing traps, we use them as shorthand to self identify : we talk about our “stuff” from wardrobes to record collections to yachts – and the things we’ve done – traveled, made babies, held jobs — without regard for whether all of this is still current. The experiences will never be deleted; each outworn identity contains skills and learning that are part of us forever. Still, there is a crucial difference between continuing to identify with a role that no longer belongs to today, and simply holding it as a foundation.
It can be painful to let go. We cling to roles that no longer fit. We see this when a father dominates a son or daughter into adulthood, without letting them establish their own identity boundaries; when a politician leaves office but continues to engage with political detail that is no longer in his charge. And we see it when men cling to their football hero self from high school, as their wives cling to their high school cheerleader self. All of those identities inform who we once were, but no longer are. Clinging to outworn identities keeps us from moving forward and finding a role that fully engages all of our abilities in the now. It keeps us from growing.
Tension freezes energy out: it stiffens our body and slows energy flow; rigidity and tension create less room than expansiveness and flexibility do. So all of the forms of ‘revving up’ must go too, so that our relaxed selves won’t exclude opportunities that wish to become part of our lives. Right now, instead of ignoring everything that isn’t familiar, I am taking a more flexible stance. I am allowing my boundaries to become fluid instead of rigid, I am questioning the habits that automatically exclude those characteristics I am not yet comfortable embodying, and I’m taking the time to look again.
I’m looking to learn not who I am, but who I might next become. I am conducting a Spring Cleaning of my Soul.