19th July 2016
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Recent conversations have centered around the seemingly growing chaos we see around the globe. I would suggest that the chaos is not growing, but rather, our conscious awareness of it, and the possibility that more and more dirt is being hidden under fewer and fewer rugs. In other words, no matter what I/you/we/they have attempted to cover up, from the personal to the planetary, political platform or prison, whether yesterday or a thousand years ago, it’s time for a big housecleaning – for revealing and releasing all the ways that don’t work, don’t fit, aren’t sustainable, that we can’t sneak in our pockets past this particular tollbooth, no matter how many times we shuffle our nickels, how im/patiently we wait in line.
In the midst of all the details, the bigger picture can get lost, and it can be easy to forget that, in a sense, the chaos is relative. That is, relative to how attached we are to how things have been, how we think things should be.
Earlier this afternoon a remembered visual brought home this realization in an almost too-perfect way. Stopped momentarily in my car, I relaxed to the left for a second, resting my head against the doorframe. Immediately my surroundings went blurry as the vibration from the motor rocked my world and everything in it. Raising my head, everything cleared and returned to center. Hmmmm, let me try that again. Yes, there it went…
And in a flash, I remembered a scene from Contact, a sci-fi must-see starring Jodie Foster. It’s been a while, so bear with me if I butcher the story, but in brief, SETI had received a mathematically based signal from far out in space that was eventually decoded into plans for some kind of a machine. No one knew what it was exactly, but the assumption was that it was some type of spaceship that could link us beyond, perhaps to the infinite – or at least the sender of the signal. Not without disagreement, they set to work, and billions of dollars and a few curve balls later, the machine was ready. Jodie was to be the solitary occupant of a spacecraft built for one. Boarding on the big day, Jodie’s character was taken aback to see that a captain’s chair had been added, bolted above and below to the structure, which otherwise was an empty, room-sized sphere. Everyone assured her it had to be that way, it was just for safety – probably an OHSA requirement for some of that funding.
I won’t ruin the story in case you haven’t seen it, but here’s the part that came to me today: When the countdown started and Jodie’s character began her journey, the machine began to vibrate, more and more violently, as speed increased and time began to blur. It looked and sounded like the ship would tear itself apart, rivets flying in every direction, far past the stress limits of the materials and construction.
But then something happened: Jodie’s character dropped the compass she’d brought along, a talisman from her father, a gift of great personal meaning. In the midst of the chaos, she remained present enough to notice that the compass was simply floating in midair – zero gravity had been achieved. Intrepid adventurer that she was, Jodie took a calculated risk, unlatching her shoulder harness – and calmly, easily, lightly floated away from the command chair that had by now begun to violently tear itself from the surrounding structure. Seconds later its bolts came loose, and the whole thing was sucked to the ceiling in a magnetic vacuum of safety. So what was the problem? It wasn’t the machine. It wasn’t Jodie. It wasn’t the compass.
It was the one thing that had been added to the plan: an Attachment. One that kept her rooted in place, in an illusory space of safety.
The second she let go of that attachment – unbuckling the hold it had on her, that she had on it – she was in a space of calm and ease. Ironically, the mad vibrations were destroying only one thing: that safety harness equipped chair.
So here’s my theory, should you care to experiment: If you happen to find yourself in chaos today, or tonight, tomorrow, or even next week (and only if you are not in a moving vehicle): Unbuckle that seatbelt. Whatever it means to you, whatever is holding you in place. Step away from the attachment, whatever it may be – a person, a place, a paradigm, a new vision of you, an old vision of you, how you think things should be, or were, or even better, how someone else thinks things should be – all those things we carry around with us in simple masquerade of our need to control – or at least to think we can. If you’re not sure how to begin, maybe just a willingness to consider the possibility is a good place to start.
Step away. Let go. That attachment was never meant to be in the first place – it wasn’t part of the original plans. Our little ego minds just got smart and thought they’d throw that in there for good measure.
I’ll be doing my best to do the same, although I’m not yet sure just how that will take shape in various situations and settings. But I’ll give it my best shot, one situation at a time, one person at a time, one conversation at a time. Letting go. Letting go. Letting go. Stepping away from all expectations – of how things are, how things were, how things could be, how we could be. Being with what is, in this instant, and now, in this one, and here again, in this next one. Seeing that, first and foremost. And then, to look for that next right step that will always reveal itself.
Hey, if you try this – let me know how it turns out. I’ll see ya on the flip side.
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About the author:
Mary (the“C” is for Crash) Batson, MA, is a mediator, a storyteller, and a big-time fan of apple butter. The writings of this barnstormer-in-training draw on her activities and interest in international environmental activism, restorative justice, personal development, and intercultural communication. Mary’s adventures have led her across bridges around the world and she’s looking forward to crossing – and building – many more. Her writings and work can be found via FrontPorchRambles.com, on Facebook or by emailing [email protected].