Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Alchemy of Love

All changes, even the most longed for,
have their melancholy;
for what we leave behind is part of ourselves;
we must die to one life before we can enter into another.
~Anatole France

Awakening to the Dream. © 2009 by Melissa Johnson.

Consider a snake molting her skin. She’s already produced new skin; it’s under the old stuff, but she’s got to get rid of it before she can get on with the business of being a snake in new skin. Still, the old stuff is holding her back from slithering around in all her snake glory. So she finds a rock or other hard surface and beats her head against it until she can break the skin, tearing it just enough to get some rollback action going; then she rubs and rubs and rubs against that rock until the old skin completely peels off, turning inside out.  In this she finds her freedom.

Transformation is serious business. When things aren’t working for us or we’ve outgrown our skin—when we hear the mysterious call to step into the unknown—we’re challenged to trade all that we are for what we might become. Yet in our restricted state, sometimes we can’t get the depth and breadth of vision to see where we're going.  With little more than faith in the process of Life, we’re urged to surrender even as we stand burning in the fire of change.  And that can be painful, like beating your head against a rock.

Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or the present
are certain to miss the future.
~John F. Kennedy

It has been said that the vast majority of what we are is impossible to see or touch, and that our willingness to transform—to move beyond our FORM into something greater—is the key to having a quality life. There’s no question that we’ll experience change, for it is the only part of life that's certain. But whether we relax into our change and use our energy to help shape the outcome of our path, or fight it every step of the way, well, therein lies the choice. 

Perhaps that's why they say:
Struggle is sometimes necessary but always optional.

As for the snake, she simply does what’s in her nature to do; she follows the call of her Creator—from somewhere deep within her DNA—and sheds that skin, moving through change without resistance. Can you imagine a snake refusing to molt?  “No, I don’t want to shed my skin. I don’t care if it’s dry and cracked and restricting my movement. I don’t care if it chokes the life out of me. You can’t make me shed!”  Absurd?  You bet.

Yet as humans, many of us resist every step of the way. We become so attached to our bodies, possessions and ideas about the way things should be—so connected to our wounds, our anger, our fear—that we cling to what we know instead of shedding our metaphorical skin.  And in so doing, we deprive ourselves and the world of all that we could become.

Nelson Mandela came to a similar conclusion. During his 27 years in prison—locked up for his activism against the unjust laws of apartheid—he had a lot of time to contemplate his life and the many battles he fought to secure basic human rights for his people.  He read the biographies of those he admired, the people who had done the most for humanity, and he discovered that their success came down to a basic mindset—how a person handles hardship and disaster.  Does it transform or destroy?
Mandela said that his jailers had taken the best years of his life; that he didn’t get to see his children grow up. They had abused him mentally and physically, and they destroyed his marriage. But despite this, Mandela would not let himself live in anger, because he would not let them take his mind and heart… Mandela insists that if you want to achieve your goals in life, you cannot afford to engage in anger and you cannot waste your life fighting with the enemy. You rather want to create the conditions in which you can move everybody toward your goals. Mandela did this in 1995 when he gave his support to the predominately white Rugby team—a potent symbol of the former apartheid regime—engineering a massive shift in white public opinion.  [Nelson Mandela, A Life in Photographs, text by John D. Battersby.]
Like Mandela, I find that the greatest change agents are alchemists of love.  It doesn’t take an extraordinary person to do this; it only takes an ordinary person committed to positive change, doing unique and  extraordinary things in the face of adversity.

Ultimately, I believe that our ability to transmute the poisons of our negative emotions and life experiences into higher states of awareness is the process through which we reach wholeness; this is our path to freedom.  Remember the Law of Energy—it can neither be created nor destroyed, it simply changes form.  What kind of alchemist are you?   

As you move through intense periods of growth and change, ask yourself:

1.  What are the lessons and gifts of my challenge?

2.  Am I fighting myself and others? How can I relax my resistance to this process?

3.  What is my best path forward?  How can I maintain inner peace through this transition?

4.  Am I operating from love or fear?  Consider:

Where love creates, fear destroys.

Where love empowers, fear oppresses.

Where love expands, fear restricts.

Where love inspires, fear coerces.

Where love sees opportunity, fear sees loss and entitlement.

Where love seeks to understand, fear demands to be understood.

Where love says "How may I serve?"
Fear says, "What have you done for me lately?"

Whatever the changes, connect with the quiet wisdom of your heart; for there in the stillness is the way.


JJ said...

Melissa, your passage today inspires me. I know exactly what I need to do. It is myself I must overcome and you have made the very best arguments to that end. I have no more arguments. I will do what I must.
I think you are writing a book... with your blogs. -JJ

Melissa Johnson said...

JJJ~ I am glad to have inspired on any level.  This article came from my personal struggles with major life change.  "They" say you teach what you most need to learn, and that's certainly been true with the content of "The Alchemy of Love."  Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.  And that's when we have to shake it off and refocus and be super gentle with ourselves... as we would with a scared little child seeking the comfort of our loving arms. Interestingly, working with the littlest ones at Children's Hospital has been a great teacher of self-love. I send you prayers for peace. Melissa

JJ said...

Melissa~ I believe it's true with the teaching what we need to learn. I'm a lousy teacher, though so I don't learn a blasted thing from myself.:) I make myself SO TIRED. Peace is wonderful.

And if you are learning these things yourself, it gives me some comfort that I'm not alone. Your thoughts on this one flow. I just LOVE it. And it's so non-threatening but to the point. I think it's my favorite so far even though it makes me see myself in a light I don't particularly like. But that's okay. I'm always wanting to improve.
Someone I know always says we're in a "constant state of flux." I think about how every few years our bodies totally change to the point that we have all new atoms and molecules. The only sure is change. When things are good or bad, I'm always thinking it's about to change. I don't mind it. Even the sad parts are okay. We're equipped to handle most things, I suppose.

Thanks for your thoughtful posts. Keep writing! JJ

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

Whereas we don't know each other I just want to tell you that I really enjoy your blog.  And in reading your blog, lead me to check out your website.  I am guessing maybe we are around the same age and I find you to be absolutely inspiring.  It give me confidence and hope that I too can one day transition out of my "job" and find myself a "career" - wake up each day to do something I love, or even at the very least, something that I don't mind doing.  I think its time for me to stop reading about change and time to make a change.  Thank you for all the work you put into your writing... at least you know one person is loving it!

Best wishes on all your endeavors!