When the chaotic life I was immersed in ended, the quiet descended.
At first this was not a comfortable space to live in. All the demands for my attention and the requirements for me to be in endless meetings filled my days and my mind with a carousel of to do lists and diary checks.
I bought into the feelings of being relevant because people needed my input. When this all stopped abruptly, my mind remained on spin cycle but the thoughts that tumbled around were not about the productive work I needed to get done but rather about the fear of what was next.
Many days it seemed impossible to escape the gnawing questions about what is going to happen. I spiraled up and down. The ups were me trying to apply my positive thinking. The downs were the many attempts I made to try something new, volunteering, helping out or initiating a project only to find that this new possibility was not really possible.
I dragged myself out of bed each day saying that I had to be open to a new life, asking again and again ‘what else is possible’. I seemed to be moving quickly through a process of elimination of what was not possible!
In the midst of all of this shift from chaos to quiet, I meditated. I had to find my inner peace. But let me be honest with you, this was far from easy. I felt like an onion, shedding one layer after another. I knew when I had released a surface of myself because the fear associated with it disappeared. Now that sounds relatively easy, doesn’t it? Just identify the fear, meditate and wallah, a layer of self-doubt is exfoliated. Not quite.
I believe we live our lives in two states – fear or love. Fear drives every bad behavior we possess. Love is the basis of every strength we own.
Yet our world is fear based. We still live in a primal state believing we have to survive and survival means knowing when to fight or take flight. We hear it every day in terms like The Aussie Battler. We have mythologised the lifestyle and made people who are ‘doing it tough’ heroes in their own backyards. When asked how we are, some people respond that they are ‘battling on’ as they walk past with slumped shoulders and little eye contact.
That my friends is people living in fear.
Fear of losing control is probably society’s biggest phobia and yet we see people dumping their sanity in road rage videos captured by the car behind where an innocent person is being pummeled or the latest update on one-punch victims. Fear fuels violence.
This unrelenting narrative of fear takes us to the edge of ourselves time and time again. We ‘lose our shit’ or act out because we are fearful and other people accept that because they too are living in fear and know they have done the same or are just one disappointment away from doing exactly that.
Or we are reactive.
The moment we feel challenged in a situation, feel that we are not within ‘our tribe’, or we are called out on our decisions, we react so quickly. That reaction sparks off because we are living in fear within the amygdala of our brains. We are wired for the fight and our reactions lay the ground telling others to back off, allowing us to maintain our perceived control or boundaries.
When we purposely utilise our pre-frontal cortex and try to reason and rationalise with the fearful, we find the effort almost impossible. The person standing in front of us is either going to ‘fight’ or take ‘flight’. That makes it very hard to invite them to breathe deeply, centre themselves and find their balance.
What we see in our society is a mirror of our own inner battles.
In the quiet I found my two selves – the one who was living on adrenaline and in reality working from a fear construct and the one who was practicing meditation and allowing inner peace to flourish. This was a bit of a contrast and accounted for the swings in motivation and emotions.
Each layer of needless self-obsession that I have shed released itself in a stubborn struggle. I constructed that layer originally to keep myself protected from the fearful elements in my life. I had been raised to live in fear rather than in love.
My family was full of the ‘doom and gloom’, ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ conversations. As much as I tried to outrun their influence, I had to come to realise it was in my DNA. Realising that I was living a state of fear was the first major shift to changing my life.
My father called it prescience and recognised that I had the same predisposition to him and his father. In effect, we could see what was going to happen before others. Our minds possessed the ability to extrapolate current circumstances and foresee the future direction. Hence we were able to warn others of what lay ahead, usually scaring the crap out of them or heightening the fear already within.
I have come to recognise that all three of us just had a negative outlook with a risk aversion. Though my father did some risky things in his life only because he had enough arrogance to believe he had the right to.
My challenge was and is every day to live in love. This requires discipline and it requires a place where my mind can have respite from the shadows and simply sit and bask in the sun that is always present.
Clouds are not always present. They come and go with the winds. The sun, however, is forever shining. Clouds just get in the way. I am fascinated by clouds as I see them as analogy for my life. I have allowed fear to cloud my vision. I have believed that storms were gathering. In fact these were transitional truths. The real truth was that the sun was, is and will always be shining. If it isn’t, our planet is dead.
So now like Joni Mitchell, I look at clouds from both sides now. As she wrote in her lyrics;
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
As I read the words ‘So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way’, I realise that there were plenty of things I could have done in my life from a place of love but clouds aka fear got in my way.
Unlike Joni (and I am assuming her meaning), I now know clouds for what they are. They are temporary conditions of weather that come into our lives to help us think a bit deeper or dream a little larger rather than block our view of the omnipresent sun. Some days they spread themselves thick and low. Those are the days when I let hope grow. Because if I truly believe in or want to achieve something, I must maintain my faith and knowing that the sun will reappear. I must bask in the sunshine that is the inner peace I can find at any given moment in my mind.
The quiet is now welcome in my life. Actually, it is the heart and soul of my life. In the quiet, there is an absence of fear. In the quiet I am learning to cultivate love in my words and actions. First love for myself. Secondly love for every single person I meet because there is something to love in all of us. And thirdly love for what is.
Through love, I am finding my truths – my quirky views of life that are allowing me to create a unique life and by embracing my uniqueness, putting me in a position to meet others who are doing the same.
It is a cloudy day today weather-wise. But as I look at clouds from upside down, I know that clouds’ illusion are just that – an illusion, an allegory for fear. I have come to love clouds, including the foreboding ones that signal a weather change or the rain swelled and dark layers. Why? Because living in love means that I accept all that is without judgment. I love the clouds in my head. I am just not driven by them anymore.