Living on the Edge

Say “yes” to life — and see how life  suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”…― Eckhart Tolle

 “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria RilkeLetters to a Young Poet

I want to thank you all for the support and good vibes you have been sending me since my last blog, Open Kimono.  I feel the love.  And, I feel you.  After posting that infamous blog, many of you have come to me to express your desire to change things up, ditch the status quo and be your true authentic selves.  In fact, one very special friend wrote to me and bravely shared, “I need to take a sledgehammer to my life right now but can’t seem to get beyond the fear and need for security.  It is amazing how much one can accept the status quo even with desire for more.”

I so get this.  I have a feeling that many of you get this too.

Taking a sledgehammer to all that I know to be true has definitely changed things.  My life hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier but it is larger, which is a good thing.  Why?  Because, I am following something more than security and status quo. I am following that deep down in your core feeling, beyond flesh, beyond bone, beyond blood and even beyond heart that summons you day and night to do something more!

When I speak of this deep internal feeling, I am not referring to gut or instincts, which are beautiful and valid in and of themselves.  No, I am speaking of something deeper, bigger, numinous, and transcendent.  I am speaking of our soul.  Our soul knows.  It knows what it knows and it wants what it wants – a transcendent meaning that often has little to do with our narrow frame of conscious understanding.*  It speaks to us, guiding us and even summoning us.  It wakes us in the wee hours and haunts us in the light of day.  We can ignore it, but it will not ignore us.  We can try to distract ourselves, and resist its calling, but what we resist will persist.  There is no escape.

The soul is at the heart of all psychology although the word soul has been replaced by psyche.  In fact, the Greek word for soul is psyche.  Without getting too Carl Jung on you, the “self” is in service to our soul.  And to be our true “self,” we must answer to the soul’s summons; a summons toward a larger life, a life of our own design both meaningful and whole.  And, it will summon us, rain or shine, whether we like it or not.  It will beckon until we rise to the occasion.  It will call upon us for an answer.  And if we do not answer the summons, it will answer for us.  And, I promise, we will not like its’ answer.

So why do we not answer?  Why do we ignore its summons?  We ignore its summons because we are afraid of what it is asking of us.  We are afraid of what we are asking of ourselves.

My friend is being summoned and she knows it.  Her admittance is not only honest and brave, it is a step towards her soul’s calling.  And I know she will answer.  But, the ego keeps many of us from answering because it desires comfort above all else.  And when we live from ego instead of soul, we stay small.  We do not step into largeness.  Fear wins, we become disheartened and depressed, and go through the day like zombies, yearning for more.  This discord will eventually manifest itself in our bodies.  According to a recent study in The New York Times, one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s are taking anti-depressants.  This is preposterous especially compared to the fact that only one in ten of the general population is taking antidepressants.

Okay, you gorgeous fabulous mid-life women out there.  I am not writing this blog to depress you even more.  I am hoping to shine some light on things and help inspire change, largeness.  I know that we are at a funky stage in our lives.  It is a time of transition and it is not easy.  A friend of mine expressed this stage in a woman’s life beautifully in a recent E-mail she sent me.  She wrote, “It is strange to be in that next phase of marriage where the home-making and baby rearing, with all their clear guidelines is nearing an end and that unknown, instruction less expanse opens up.”

Instruction less expanse can be pretty fucking scary.  Mix that with all the other things we may have to face at mid-life:  overworked distant husband, sick or elderly parents, teenagers, empty-nest syndrome, college bills, over demanding career, under demanding career, drastic drops in estrogen levels, wild black hairs growing out of our chin, easily accessible chocolate, wine and 50 Shades of Gray that keep us fat, drunk and fantasizing.  And, to be fair, let’s not hog all the depression.  I know men at mid-life are facing some of their own difficulties as well.  I have a feeling they are depressed just as often as women but choose not to go to the doctor for help.  Instead they “deal with it like a man.”

So, how do we escape the tyranny of our ego?  How do we break away from the ravages of depression?

We must say “yes” to the things that scare the shit out of us!  A new career?  Yes!  Write that book?  Yes!  Go back to school?  Yes!  Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro? Yes!  Move to Kathmandu?  Yes!  Leave a marriage?  Yes!   I just committed to hiking the Grand Canyon with my brothers in May. I am terrified. They are younger than me, fit and have legs like camels.  But, I’m going to do it.  Because we must opt for racing heart, sweaty palms, breathing in a paper bag choices that make you feel like you just might die right there and then.  It is the only way to a larger life.  Saying “no” or choosing not to answer will only get you more of what you already have.  Please understand that the anxiety you feel when saying “yes” to your soul means you are moving forward; depression, backwards.  As James Hollis, Jungian psychologist and my personal superhero reminds us, “…choose anxiety and ambiguity, for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive.  Anxiety is an elixir, and depression a sedative. The former keeps us on the edge of our life, and the latter in the sleep of childhood.”

I choose to live on the edge.

I have an extra stash of paper bags in the kitchen.  My kids think they are for their lunches.  Someday, not only do I hope they will have their own stash of paper bags, I hope The New York Times will be reporting that one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s have ditched antidepressants in favor of paper bags.

*James Hollis


2 Responses to “Living on the Edge”

  1. cmcque Says:

    I’m doing it! I’ve got all the anxiety, ambiguity and the depression associated with making tremendous change in one’s life. It’s very exciting and overwhelming to make major changes. I’m not saying its not a good thing, but knowing that these feelings are natural and normal can make the transition that much easier. I believe that depression is merely down time for your heart, mind and soul to catch up to your decision and action. It’s a transition. Some, more than others, must take action to ensure depression doesn’t settle in. And, I mean exercise, good social outlets and lots of laughing. Doctors might mention this aspect of managing depression, but its not really emphasized. What’s emphasized is the medication–to help with the transition. Doctors, male and female, prescribe the anti-depressan
    ts before they prescribe regular exercise. Before they prescribe counseling. But fighting depression by natural means gives longer lasting relief. So, say YES, then take a walk to help build your stamina for your new adventure and fight any depression that might come your way. Happy New Year!

  2. Deanne Says:

    Good for you! I can feel your energy. It is exciting and and overwhelming at the same time, but that’s the way it should feel. I was planning on hitting the trails today, now, after reading your response, I definitely will be hitting those trails. Happy New Year to you too! Deanne

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