Reconceive the Dream
“I am proposing we reconceive the dream….That we find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us but from what dissolves, reveals, and expands us.” ~ Eve Ensler
Last week I read Insecure at Last: Losing It in Our Security Obsessed Culture on the recommendation of a friend. In it, Eve Ensler, creator of the ground-breaking plays The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body, discusses how, in her fifties, she finally came to a place where she was okay with insecurity. And she argues it is healthier to be insecure, because this is the nature of reality. Nothing stays the same, there is no ground under us. Any sense of security is an illusion. The more we try to cling to security, the more locked down we become until we’re frozen in the darkness.
Allowing life to break us open, over and over, lets us grow. It keeps us fresh, pliable, ready for change – change that is inevitable.
I know this intellectualy. I studied very basic quantum physics, which demonstrates that everything is made of space. Nothing is truly solid.
I also know, and like, the Zen saying that you can never step into the same river twice.
But knowing these ideas in the mind is one thing; it’s quite another to embody them. That’s been my journey the last nine months. It’s scary, unnerving, and it takes a lot of time to adjust.
At least I made it this far. Two years ago, I was in total lock-down.
I knew things were changing in my marriage and I was absolutely terrified of letting Lance go. I didn’t know how I’d live without him. Who would I be if I wasn’t married, attached, in a relationship? I tenaciously clung to that identity. Then, when I graduated from my master’s program two months after we decided to split, my unmooring intensified. Again, it had to do with idenity. Who was I if I wasn’t a grad student? What kind of career did I want to create for myself?
The funny thing is, I sensed all this coming months before the events occurred. I remember saying to a mentor in December 2009 that the ground under my feet was gone. And he smiled sagely and said, “What makes you think there was ground there in the first place?”
Then he said I had to make a serious choice. I could jump and give in to what was happening, or I could freeze and hurt myself in unimaginable ways. Before we parted, he asked me if I would have the courage to jump. I wasn’t sure. I was scared. He said, “I really hope you do this for yourself.”
As you know, I took the leap. I let go of everything. I have very little left from that old life. I see now that nothing is stable. And honestly, this kind of freedom is what I longed for for years.
However, actually settling into this flow, this uncertainty, takes some serious work and trust. It isn’t the usual way to live. Everything in our society screams at us that we have to be secure, we have to have the marriage, the 2.5 kids, the mortgage, the car, the 9 to 5 job. We have to believe things are solid, because if we don’t we’re unleashing a whole lot of chaos.
And yet, the old way is crumbling. We see it everywhere. New ideas emerge daily and a more feminine way of living is being created. More of us are finding the old ways stale and even uncomfortable and we’re willing to choose this new way, even if there isn’t much of a path to follow.
While reading Ensler’s book I also came across this provocative article. The author, Julie (JC) Peters, writes about a little-known Hindu goddess, Akhilandeshvari, whose name means “never not broken.” The kind of broken referred to here is the kind we should all aspire to, she says.
“It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.”
I think Eve Ensler was channeling Akhilandeshvari when she wrote her book. It’s precisely this kind of letting go that is needed now. The kind that makes us insecure…in a good way.
As Peters writes, “All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.
“But remember Akhilanda’s lesson: even that new whole, that new, colourful, amazing groove that we create, is an illusion. It means nothing unless we can keep on breaking apart and putting ourselves together again as many times as we need to.”