Tragedy and Invitation….

Our first response, our first perception, is almost always reactive and fearful.  Unbelievable, we say.  Scary, horrible, tragic, mind-numbing.  Because the “stuff” that is happening in our lives is real.  All of these events threaten what we have, reduce our security, take away comforts, financial or otherwise, instigate real loss of friends, loved ones, possessions, our sense of safety.  And no one is immune.  Everyone I know is confronted right now with loss and upheaval of all shapes and sizes.

About three years ago, life threw me a giant curveball in the form of a broken relationship and loss of family.  My first response was that of hapless victim.  Something “happened to me.”  The pain I felt was deeply personal.  It felt like intentional harm perpetrated by an angry god.  In those first few months of that perception, I gave away all my power, and stayed stuck in the dark, with limited options and no way to create something new in the aftermath of change.  Because loss is extraordinarily painful.  And it’s also simply change.

In time, I understood that the victim story was a debilitating belief.  It was the least creative response I could have to the loss (change) I was experiencing.  Underneath the victim story that I told myself over and over was a much deeper truth that wanted expression.  And that truth was that I had been aching to live and express my soul’s calling, and I wasn’t courageous enough to do it in the context of my existing relationship.  So I held on in fear.

The longer I held on, the more I suppressed and the more my denial took hold, until finally the universe took a sledge hammer to the situation and ripped everything apart like Hurricane Sandy–stripping me of all I believed I cherish most—my partner and life in a traditional family structure—like you might rip off an arm or a leg.  Hard, fast, painful and immediate.

holygrail017.jpg

Three years later, I can see this whole event in my life as pivotal.  I have learned that change is constant, and I can either resist it, creating a logjam of suppressed emotions and denial—knowing that eventually the universe will bring in the “big guns” in the form of big winds, big waves, or big tragedy–or I can step forward towards change, watching the visible and intuitive signs all around me, symbols of the forthcoming change, and embrace the challenges I’m perceiving as invitations.

Tragedy or invitation.  Loss or invitation.  Death or invitation.  Of course they are both.  Better yet, they’re everything we can imagine them to be.  But how we perceive them in the moment, or at least a day, a week or a month later, makes a very real difference in how quickly and creatively they move, morph and allow for the new in our lives to come forward into something so beautiful it can, and will, take our breath away.

Death, tragedy, loss—the same challenges we’ve faced since our earliest beginnings of consciousness—test our resolve and adaptability and invite us to flex a very old but much underused muscle, the muscle of new perception.  It’s a muscle that just gets stronger the more we use it, and allows us to perceive all challenges—frankenmonster storms, polarizing elections, death of loved ones, heart-wrenching fissures in cherished relationships, zero financial security, loss of hearth and home, even just a explosive argument at work or at home—simply as invitations to grow.

These kind of trauma-inducing events demand that we really look at the assumptions we were holding about the “infrastructure” we all think we need to feel safe and peaceful.  And the more that gets stripped away from us–the more “infrastructure” we lose that we always thought was necessary to keep our lives contained–the more we see of the real resources inside us that represent the truth of who we are and what we need most after the proverbial lights go out.  And the more we see and feel what connects us all, because the ideas and structures that separate us have fallen away.

Since my own personal tragicomedy, everything has changed.  As I discovered my own unexpressed desires for more sovereignty in my relationship, I could see that I precipitated its brutal end to catalyze a new beginning.  As reflected so beautifully in the archetypal symbol of Ouroboros, everything dies so something new can be born, the eternal return.  But because I was resisting the “death” of us with all my might, the death throes were more violent than they ever needed to be.  If I had been listening to my own needs and responding to them in the moment, the learning for me might have been more gentle.  More like an invitation.

Invitations ask us to step forward, rather than step back.  Invitations offer a new experience.  Invitations are expansive.  In the face of an invitation, we stay curious, we step in.  We don’t repel or push away, rather we embrace the darker thing, the shadowy thing, because what’s inside it, underneath it, beyond its current perception of horribleness, is love–a new and transcendent beginning–wanting expression.

That’s what’s in front of us now. Today, tomorrow and for the duration.  An opportunity to see the world around us, in its entirety, as an invitation to perceive anew.  If we practice this as individuals, we can do this as a collective.  And it’s an invitation to finally and truly own our most divinely inspired creativity—which is just a passport to what we want most of all—our freedom.

Lisa Fitzhugh