Adapted from the writings of Danaan John Raymond 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 a while 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.
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.
This is so true for me. And yet it starts mid-way through the story. Not only must you release the holding bar to propel through the transition onto the next holding bar – but even before that your swing is comprised of forward and backward movements. Just getting the speed up to let go requires at least as much backward motion as forward motion. I live that – backward action is critical to my ability to launch. “Pumping” on a swing happens on the backward stroke. Forward and backward, in and out breaths start the whole process. Forward and backward produce the energy for change.
Or no, maybe that isn’t the start. Is the start actually reaching into air for the first time to grasp the bar coming toward you as you move your feet off the platform. Propelling yourself into the unknown. Reaching is acceptance. Acceptance is the start.
Or no again – isn’t the start putting your foot on the first rung of the ladder up to the unknown of the platform, the propulsion off the platform to grasp the first bar. Courage is the start
Or perhaps it is the intention to do all of that – maybe that is where it starts. The call to do all of that – the need, pulled or pushed by life’s events to do all of that. Yes, intention is the start for me.
Love of my heart – there is so much back and forth, up and down, out of control, unknowing on this journey. Risk comes from all directions, uncertainty from as many. For Alexa it starts with intention to risk and learn and climb and reach for air and propel off the platform. To pump as the action is backward, or forward, and ultimately let go. Is it so for all of us? Blessed be.
Yes Mandy is the trapeeze artist for those who know her. She is the catcher. Isn’t she powerful in her catching?