Quick Life Changes Usually Pass Quickly

Theatre Marquee Sign illustration by Rik Vig

Looking back at my younger years, I cringe a bit to remember the times when I came upon some new (to me) philosophy or outlook on life – and how I would become instantly obsessed by this newfound truth, forsaking all previous personal world views. I pity those unfortunate souls who I would then evangelize to, outpouring in endless flow my newfound wisdom. It’s funny, but I can sort of remember the giddy sense of elation and euphoria I experienced at those times, but not much about the nature of the so-called enlightenment of the moment that initiated such dramatic change. Usually, all of this seeming consciousness expansion was sparked by a book I read, a lecture I attended, some spiritual teacher I listened to, or some spark of revelation that suddenly burst into my train of consciousness. Now, as I reflect on who I am and have become over the passing years, I begin to see that not all of the old ways of being that I thought I left behind have slipped away from me, nor did the bulk of these new and dramatic changes become any lasting part of who I am in the here and now. From this realization, I began to sense that the things that last must arrive more slowly, in small steps and in more subtle ways. This doesn’t mean that bold and upsetting, new ways of looking at the world can’t jar us from stasis and move us forward – it’s just to say that the most dramatic aspects of those bold moments of change may not be the most important stuff that becomes a real and permanent part of who we are.

I have often thought that this tendency to pursue dramatic self-change is not unlike the big marquee sign that stands in front of theaters. We have all driven by a movie theater and seen the huge marquee on the street featuring an announcement in big letters about the newest release – bigger and better than all movies that have come before it. Then, in the next few days, we drive by again to see the sign completely changed, billing a brand new movie with no trace of the one that was featured there right before. In the melodrama of living our lives, some of us are sometimes prone to a similar effect. We plaster a big announcement of the new and improved “US” for all to see, then find that time quickly dulls the excitement of our newfound revelation and we start searching for something to replace the fading elation we felt. The problem is that we invest too much of our awareness in the superficial and surface changes and forget to attune our awareness to the quieter inner changes that truly last. There may be real moments of enlightenment in this universe that come like a sudden bolt of lightning, but the majority of changes that really mold and shape most of us are much more organic and happen slowly over time.

The reason this blog was named Gently Unfolding is because it seeks to honor the slow and gently unfolding process by which each of our true natures reach their fullness of being. I liken our being to that of a flower, which starts as a folded bud, revealing little to the casual observer of its eventual beauty. But this young bud is always in a process of unfolding, petal by petal until its full bloom is arrayed in beauty for all of the world to see. This is an organic process, not a process of desire and will. It happens because it is the true nature of the flower to unfold in this manner – and it all happens in its own time and season, true to its nature. The next time you feel dissatisfied with your life and who you think you are – or aren’t, step back for a moment and consider that you can not begin to appreciate the unique being you are destined to become from that place of dissatisfaction and impatience in which you have been dwelling. Instead, try becoming your own best friend – take the attitude of a gardener who tends to a flowering plant by nurturing and protecting it, yet never tries to pry open the blossoms before they are ready to open by themselves, for the experienced gardener knows that to do so would only hinder the beautiful unfolding that only happens in the proper time and season. if you want to be loved and admired by others, learn to love yourself first – and the first step of that loving is to accept yourself as you are here and now. No one else is exactly like you, so who are you to say that it is not enough when you haven’t even been patient enough to see how you will unfold.

In closing – your life is not a movie and the true you cannot be plastered onto a theater marquee. You are an unfolding flower and the true beauty of your being will be revealed in its own time. Peace.

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