'Aufbruch' - or I am what I could become
Recently we brought one of the free newspapers with us from our local organic groceries shop. These newspapers tend to patiently take a place on our kitchen table, enjoy the smell of morning coffee, food and long dinner conversations - until I finally find time to flip through them in hunt of inspiration for new recipes. Well, most recently I had time for such a hunt again - and was surprised to find inspiration of a very different kind.
In a brief article an unknown author shared some interesting thoughts on creating trust in our own strengths - and how many filters most of us pick up along the years to stop this process. He quotes the famous words of Marianne Williamson to illustrate this - and what might hold us back in stepping forward to acknowledge the talent we hold:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? (...) And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Let's imagine for a moment this quote is completely true; no IF's or BUT's for a second... Then what it would really mean is the simple yet painful truth: we are more afraid to be powerful than powerless. It would mean that the actual feeling of not being in control has a soothing and bittersweet quality - which might be more sweet than bitter to some of us. Because being in the back seat of the car means we don't hold responsibility for where we are going? In essence what it means is this: as humans our minds are prone to the flaw in perception that makes the new and unknown territory seem more scary than the desert that surrounds us. We easily get caught by the misperception that 'the new' becomes a promise of even more scars rather than the unknown or potentially even healing.
The author then references a wonderful idea - and this is what made the article really meaningful to me. He goes on to mention the book of one Mathias Wais (available in German only unfortunately) where Mr.Wais shares the following concept: imagine there are two forms of 'I'. There is the everyday 'I' we are all familiar with, the product of everything we experienced and went through, the one that people can read from our faces, the lines in our skin, the marks life has left on us. This 'I' has a defined and clear gestalt or shape - as it constantly expresses itself and speaks through our facial expressions, our habitus and our whole way of being. It is easy for other people to see - and it is easy to be mistaken for the other 'I' that exists right next to it.
This other 'I' is not the self we have become, but who we could become in the future. Rather than a mark left on us, it is a trail ahead of us, a promise leading into an unknown future. Where the 'I' of our past is limited by the choices and circumstances we experienced in every moment of our past, the 'I' of our future is limited by our imagination - as well as the trust we hold in our own strengths to get there.
As human beings we are free to wander and walk between these two poles of our existence - the past and the prospective 'I'. There is power at both ends. And at any given point we are free to identify with what we have become or what we could to become. Actually, identifying more with what we could become than what we are today is the first step of approaching the unknown. And it often is where our fears reside.
Where our past 'I' holds a clear gestalt our prospect 'I' is much more ambiguous and open. Where the former has settled into a specific tangible shape, the latter is more of a field of possibilities, of a force or energy than a form or confined existence. There is a wonderful German word the author uses to mark the difference between these two poles. He says the prospect 'I' can be defined in its very essence as 'Aufbruch'. The literal translation of this word means 'breaking open'. Yet, it is specifically used in contexts where it describes situations of departure. It signifies the state you are in when you leave your home to live abroad, when an experience that was dear to you comes to an end and something new and unknown is about to begin. Aufbruch. It's a wonderful word to describe the situations we have to face when we are ready to approach something new. When there potentially is more to be lost than to be gained but we still go ahead...
Accepting our mediocrity is one of the best ways to shut down our own imagination and the possibilities of our future 'I'. Not being ready to face our own fears and to acknowledge everything we have to lose are equally good measures of getting stuck and never finding our full strength.
In light of this the hebrew name of God 'Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh' comes to my mind. One of the translations of this secret word is 'I will be what I will be'. These divine names are not for us to admire in an eternal, intangible being out there. They are for us to draw out and bring forth in ourselves, they are guideposts of places we can go to as humans beings... I will be what I will be. There is deep mystery in this name. We can approach it like a well of fresh water. It carries a lot of what we can hope to achieve in our lives: an inner calmness and readiness to let go, to move forward into the new. A deep inner conviction that we do not need to control what is unknown to us but that we are okay to trust. We are drivers and passengers at the same time. Co-creators if we chose to. One step at a time.