As 2014 comes to an end, I sit in wonder at the year’s lessons and transitions. If we are awake to it, life is filled with moments and invitations for deeper awareness. Some transitions are painful, of course, as we are hollowed out to contain so much more of life’s energy and gifts. And still we keep going...taking risks, loving, staying alive to life.
I’ve been thinking a lot about change and transformation lately. We choose a major in college, a mate, a house. We seek new friendships, retirement, or adventures. At the same time, though, friends move away, we face a serious illness, a job ends, a loved one dies. It seems change is both an internal and external presence in our lives. As Buddha taught, “Everything changes, nothing remains without change.”
But transformation is a different matter, isn’t it?
I’m wondering...is transformation how we response to change? Victor Frankl explains in Man’s Search for Meaning that “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” That is how I understand the invitation to transformation, and it’s an invitation that many don’t want to accept. This type of change requires digging deep and facing truths. It requires letting go of painful patterns and attitudes that are familiar, even safe. Transformation means considering a new “way of being.”
If my words have touched upon the unending or demanding changes in your life right now, I’d like to suggest an experiment to help soften the daunting task of transformation. 12-step programs call it “Act, as if” or “Fake it until you make it.” I call it “It’s time to play dress-up!” Do you remember digging through a box of old clothes as a young child? Were you blessed to jump into this world of imaginary play where skirts, hats, wigs or suspenders became a spark for a whole new way of talking or interacting in a made-up scene?
I offer you, friends, this image of playing dress-up to try new responses to the changes that come your way. Try on “Life is ok” for 10 minutes or pull “I am ok” over your head for 8 ½ minutes. Walk in the shoes of “I can do this” for that next difficult encounter and see what it feels like. Give yourself a break from self-consciousness or anxiety and, instead, breathe in peace or confidence. This experiment is not offered as an alternative to inner work, but as a companion or respite from the hard work of knowing and transforming oneself.
I’ve also been thinking about courage. As we consider and embrace the invitation to transformation, let us call upon courage to guide the way. Poet EE Cummings reminds us, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
Blessings to you this day, Lisa