Torschlusspanik. Now there’s a word and a half. It’s that horrible feeling of panic one gets, the thought that the door between yourself and all of life’s opportunities has been resolutely slammed in your face. Know that one? Yeah, thought so. Me too.
But, you know, it comes about when we think of life as linear – as being a straightforward progression. It’s all too easy to think we’re failures if we don’t steadily move on in what society perceives as the Right Path; if we don’t get the better job, the bigger house, more money in the bank. But, really, what if life weren’t a straight line? What if it were a circle, or cycles of circles? If you go down only in order to come up again, somewhere slightly different, with a different perspective?
Marion Woodman says, ‘A life that is being truly lived is constantly burning away the veils of illusion, gradually revealing the essence of the individual.’ And sometimes you have to break down in order to build up. We fear dissolution in the way we fear all change - yet change is necessary for growth.
It need not be big changes either. People always focus on the big stuff – on making a shed-load of money, of losing a ton of weight, of moving abroad. But really, sometimes all you need is something small, something tiny, just to kickstart the process. ‘The Self need not carry mountains to transform,’ says Clarissa Pinkola Estes, one of my favourite writers. ‘A little is enough. A little goes a long way. A little changes much.’
So, today, maybe, think about doing something different. Just something small, out of your usual routine. Because we can become stuck in routine, in doing the same things, day in, day out.
I’m not saying all routine is bad. Small children, in particular, need routine. It keeps them feeling safe, secure. They know where their boundaries are, of space and time and emotion. As they become teenagers, they need to test those boundaries, to flex their egos, their will. It’s why parents should be a bit mean, a bit tough. Because, without those boundaries against which to push, to struggle, the emerging adult cannot break through his or her chrysalis. The pearl needs the grit to grow.
But. Once you’re a fully-grown adult, you need to beware of routines. You need to watch for the soporific trap of the everyday cuckoo clock. It’s like my friend, Trish, the fitness instructor says – if you do the same exercise routine all the time, you won’t progress. You’ll get stuck. You’ll plateau. You have to surprise yourself, catch yourself unawares. And yeah Trish, my abs are still surprised this morning after those oblique crunches, thank you very much!
So. Maybe today do something just a tiny bit differently. Break the patterns. Nothing major. You don’t have to scare the horses. Baby steps. Wear something different; eat something different; go somewhere different; do something different. In Tantra adepts shock themselves into different states of consciousness by consciously breaking taboos. You don’t have to go that far (I’m not suggesting drinking blood or sleeping with corpses!) but keep the principle in mind. Don’t become an automaton. Accept the challenge of growth.