December 9, 2013

Creating New Personal Maps: the Path of the Ouroboros. ~ Jillian Locke


 Warning: naughty language ahead!

It’s funny—it always seems to happen at once.

I sign into Facebook and I start seeing all these posts about people waking up at 3:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m., like everyone’s simultaneously having a sleepless night.

I notice this a lot around the time of the changing moons—new moons, full moons. I can never sleep the night of a full moon. Forget it. Most interrupted sleep ever.

But it just goes to show how connected we all are. We’re all in tune to the way the seasons change, the weather and ultimately, our planet. We’re in sync with its rhythms, its sighs and screams and belly laughs.

In much the same way as the earth expands and contracts, so do we.

We change, constantly. We create and try to slip into new cycles and rhythms and routines; however our life and our focus is shifting, we need to become flexible to shift along with it, to find and swim into that new ebb and flow.

I started out as a night owl.

Right from the start as a single-digit-midget, I was staying up until three and four a.m., watching scary movie marathons with my grandmother. Those were the twilight hours, the magical hours. I’d sleep until 11 or noon the next day, and we’d do it all over again. That was every weekend of my youth. As I grew and began writing and drawing, I tapped into the magic of those hours to create some of my best work.

That went on for years. Always a night owl, always getting sparks or glimpses of intense, often ludicrous inspiration in the middle of the night, always creating something that, after walking away and coming back to it, I really couldn’t believe I had created.

Then my clock started to change.

I got away from writing and art—my roots. I started waking up early, exercising, working, coming home, watching TV. My focus started to shift and with it, my schedule. This routine lasted a while, around four years. I couldn’t believe I was getting up at 5:00 a.m. to run or go to spin class, but it felt really good to exercise first thing in the morning and have it done. I felt accomplished. And that feeling of accomplishment started to mold my personality and how I viewed myself.

I was changing.

I started eating better, becoming more disciplined. I took my health and fitness seriously, and it showed. I didn’t drink nearly as much as I used to, and I never went out.

As a result, I got bored. Not only bored, I started to die a little inside.

So I started writing again. Reading more. I started getting up at 5:00 a.m. just to write, and then workout later. I started reprioritizing. Maybe I didn’t get out the door until about noon or so to run or hit the gym, but as long as I eventually got there, that’s what mattered, right?

More writing led to more and more writing. Which led to more time sitting.

When you’ve become so accustomed to exercising on the regular, but not only exercising—making it your number one priority—you start to feel strange and lazy when you find yourself shifting your focus. You have to retrain your mind, telling yourself, “No, it’s okay that I’m writing right now instead of running. That will come later.”

You literally have to talk yourself into a new routine.

Then you realize how much of your self worth was riding on an image, a practice, an ideal.

When you think of yourself as a runner, or someone who’s physically fit, you start to define and dare I say—judge—yourself on those terms. And if you don’t fit everything into a day that your over-achieving mind wants to, you literally have to talk yourself into being okay with what you’ve accomplished, no matter how much or how little or how closely you stuck with your original, often-times completely unrealistic list of things to do in a 24 hour period.

Hold up.

Herein lies the issue—it all comes back to cycles. Change. The spiral. Pulling a 180 in the process of re-creation and re-definition. You become the Ouroboros, coming full circle to once again look your outworn tail in the tip and devour it, digest it and create something new from it.

This is life, this is how we grow. We release. We let go. We accept, we flow. We move, simultaneously gracefully and terrified, into this new person we’re becoming.

Why fight it? Why resist? Why make more work for ourselves? We’re masters of making things difficult, adhering to our old habits, thought patterns… we’re addicted to stagnant ways of thinking. I once said that stress was a worse vice than drugs or alcohol, and I meant it. We lose sleep over notions of control, efforts to push and dominate to make something exactly as we want it. But that’s taking everything else out of the equation, and let’s face it, yeah, we’re all connected, but we’re also one in a jillion brilliantly burning stars, all fighting for control.

Control is the worst energy.

We flex our mental muscles, white-knuckles gripping desperately onto that which cries out for release, for surrender. For death. Sometimes we just need to let things fall away and die. It’s the cycle. Just as the snake sheds its skin, so must we if we have any hope of not only surviving, not only making it day to day, but of really making something out of this life we have.

It might be the last time we’re here, so, just like everything else, we need to appreciate this experience. We need to appreciate ourselves.

One day, we’re going to look back through aged eyes and wish we loved ourselves more. We’re going to wish we appreciated our 15 year old minds, our 25 year old bodies, our 35 year old hearts. We’re going to wish we lived in the moment, loved in between gasps, smiled in spite of everything.

We’re going to wish we lived while we were alive.

We’re going to wish we weren’t so hard on ourselves, forgave ourselves, enjoyed ourselves. We’re going to wish we saw ourselves for what we really were: young, curious, strong, struggling, brave, defiant in the face of adversity, stubborn, brilliant, scared, sometimes weak, but always bright.

We just need to let go of what used to work and allow the new paradigm to settle in. Sometimes, releasing all judgment and ridicule and just allow ourselves to BE in this experience really is the answer we’ve been tirelessly seeking. We’re all meant to be here for a reason, and when we spend so much time stressing about what that reason is, we’re bound to miss it. We miss the point.

Just keep with the process. Just keep going. Stay awake.

When everything feels like it’s falling apart, that’s good. Let it. Don’t attempt to put the pieces back together. Relax into the breakdown and see where it brings you, because there’s always, always some bread crumb of beauty and hope left over after everything around you explodes.

Create a new map. Don’t be scared—create it, follow it and be flexible. Change it when change beckons, stick to it when perseverance calls. Stay present, put one foot in front of the other, and for fuck’s sake, enjoy the ride!


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Wikimedia Commons}

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