“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
~ T.S. Eliot
Meet the void. It’s not what you think. It’s not what you don’t think. It’s just empty (and dark), and how can you — a creature of time, space and habit — fully understand or describe that which seems to transcend it?
You know the person in the mirror. But the mirror seems to have forgotten you. (Momentarily, you hope).
It’s not bad news that you’re falling. It’s not good news that there’s no ground. It’s just not news. It’s your life. There is no possible comparison. No metaphor will do instead of You.
Among the treasures I collected through my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, this Note to Self is still one of my most valued and inspiring pocket-treasures to date.
I unfold it every Ice Age and read it by candlelight, let some sort of ancient faith warm my feet, as they’re hanging over the void, like tired birds on wire.
The Flying Trapeze.
Sometimes, I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments, I’m hurdling across space between the trapeze bars.
Mostly, I spend my time hanging on for dear life to the trapeze bar of the moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control.
I know most of the right questions, and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily, or not so merrily, swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see?
I see another trapeze bar looking at me. It’s empty. And I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me.
In my heart of hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present well-known bar to move to the new one.
Each time it happens, I hope—no, I pray—that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moments in time I must hurtle across space before I can grab the new bar.
Each time I do this I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurdles I have always made it.
Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless basin between the bars.
But I do it anyway. I must.
Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call faith. No guarantees, no net, no insurance, but we do it anyway because hanging on to that old bar is no longer an option.
And so, for what seems to be an eternity but actually lasts a microsecond, I soar across the dark void called “the past is over, the future is not yet here.” It’s called a transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs.
I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are the illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear that can accompany transitions, they are still the most vibrant, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives.
And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition zone — between the trapeze bars — allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.
It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening.
Hurdling through the void, we just may learn to fly.
© Integrative Nutrition.
When I’ve been blinded by what is not life, I have to go back to Void School and relearn to see in the dark, in order to remember the most simple mystery of my existence:
I Am my Life. And that Life that is Me, goes with Me wherever I go, until I Am no more.
So, fear not, Self, “for I am with you. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am [she]. I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”*
*Paraphrasing Isaiah, Bible Poet.
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