House of Mirrors

house of mirrorsOne of the concepts I have recently started bringing into my teaching and into my life comes from the Conscious Leadership Group and wonderful their book, “15 Commitments of Conscious Leaders.” This particular one is about being above or below the line and while it really appears to be quite simple to grasp, it is profound in all its implications as I keep working with it, peeling layer after layer of what it really means and how it plays out for me.

This is another of “these moments” which seem to repeatedly show up and wake me up to all the moments and situations where I am asleep (as in, not fully conscious to the ways I am showing up in the various aspects of my life). Just when I think that “I am on it.”

The whole world is you. Yet you keep thinking there is something else. – Hsueh-Feng

Specifically here, I am thinking about my life and all the healing, learning, inquiring, and realizing that I have done over the years. There is so much of it, from workshops, courses, and seminars, to individual work with coaches or counsellors, to silent retreats, meditation retreats, deep inner work retreats, or personal development retreats. There are also books, Tao Oracle Cards, deep conversations with friends, journaling, and spontaneous moments of insight (which usually seem to show up unexpectedly and shake me up). There are also, of course, many deep moments of awareness from my silent fluffy guru.

Throughout them all, I have learned, grown, evolved, and – generally speaking – became a lot more aware of my strengths, gifts, skills, talents, shadows, gremlins, wounds, baggage, and who I am. This journey, so far, has been rich, juicy, wonderful, frustrating, saddening, angering, inspiring, frustrating, enlightening, and ironic (there might be more adjectives I am forgetting right now). I suspect it will continue in a very similar manner for a long time, hopefully with more ease and less struggle (one can always hope, right?!).

As I kept going through this journey – sometimes willingly and excitedly, and at other times, being dragged – a new identity of who Simon is kept emerging and solidifying with each learning moment, step, and experience. The fact is, over the past 8 or 9 years of my life, I know I have been saying that “this has been the best year so far.” I see this as a wonderful testimony to the fact that I have been growing and evolving in my journey of becoming.

Herein lies the danger. For me.

See, I get attached to these identities, because each new unfolding one is more enlightened than the previous. I get to like and love the new me du jour. This is the moment in the story when red lights begin to flash with increasing pace; despite my growing awareness, it still takes me time (or an external wake-up call) to notice these and start paying closer attention. When I am attached to “what is,” it becomes harder for me to let go of it in order to open up to “what might be next” for me.

When we accept that there are sets of problems for which there are no answers, and that there never will be answers, we create room for mystery and imperfection in life. Mystery and imperfection restore our humanity. … There needs to be space for wonder, gratitude, surrender, grief, and compassion in our institutional lives as well as in our personal lives. It transforms what we thought were “problems” into the human condition. Our willingness to accept an imperfect and paradoxical world breaks down our detachment and creates the opportunity for a more intimate connection with the world. – Peter Block

The past weekend was another one of these moments. Evidently, I was deeply below the line, being strongly convinced that it is the rest of the world that is, while I am standing there, all tall and proud, being right. Red lights flashed. I didn’t notice. The lights flashed again. I turned away. After the third flash, I strongly disagreed. Then the lights fell on my head and I had no choice but to look. Really look. Hard. With authenticity, openness, and willingness to surrender my fabulous enlightened identity yet again. Surprise – I was deeply below the line, refusing to notice everything around me that was reflecting back to me my own blind spot. Again.

Perhaps it is not merely a house. It might be that the whole world is a collection of mirrors helping us become awake and aware. It definitely is helping me. When I notice the red flashing lights.

Simon Goland