It Is Time for Us All to Tap Into Our Inner Freedom.
As a child, I was afraid of many things.
My passionate fear of insects could conjure hallucinations of beetle armies stampeding me as I perched petrified on a pillow in the center of a forest cabin during a family expedition. In essence, I was afraid of everything about the woods. I grew up in urban NE Portland and, as a kid, was comfortable walking alone along any city street at night, but the darkened forest threaded an existential fear through my soul.
Ironically, at age 15, I planned to hitchhike across the country, camping wherever I went, living primarily in the woods. To take this wild leap, I had to face my deep fears. I prepped for the journey by learning wilderness survival skills: wild edibles, building shelters, starting a fire without a lighter or matches, sleeping exposed with the bugs.
I stayed for days in nearby trails and rugged national forests with few rations or supplies. By practicing exposure therapy, I faced and conquered my fears.
I was ready to set off into the unknown.
While on the road, I learned the scrappier survival skills of dumpster-diving and spanging (asking for spare change). And primarily, I learned to live with a lot less. Yet, it’s hard to divorce oneself from the urges of comfort, security, survival. These are instincts not easily shaken.
Six months into my travels, I was camping at Cougar Hot Springs outside of Eugene, Oregon with my younger sister, Amanda, who had left home after me. I had hitchhiked with a friend as far East as Missouri and then headed back West, where I joined up with Amanda.
She and I journeyed up and down the West Coast. We had been at Cougar for about a month. We would get food two ways — one, from a group of travelers also camped at the springs who formed a kitchen, preparing food for themselves and fellow nomads; and two, we would hitchhike into Eugene, spare change, buy some groceries, and then hitchhike back.
One day, I hatched a plan to create a bit more stability. I was the older sister, and felt in some ways it was up to me to be responsible.
We had a friend, Joseph, from the hot springs. He was a biblical-esque figure with a silver mane and fervid blue eyes who would become so enthused by his own stories that he would arise from the hot pools, arms spread, looming naked as he preached whatever truth was coming through at the moment. He also let us into a secret that he had a pot crop in the woods behind his house, which was down the hill a few miles.
So, my plan: we would go on a mission to find his crop, take just a bit, not enough to really make a dent, and then hitchhike into town to sell it. Well, this plan was not very viable — the wilderness is vast, and a pot crop is a needle in an evergreen haystack.
We hunted around for hours and then, defeated, headed back to the springs.
I was in a prickly mood as we walked along the sun-baked country road. I was tearful. I think I was hungry. We were living day to day and always had enough, but old habits die hard. Even though we were joyful, alive, free, I wanted more of a sense of stability. Or at least perceived stability.
Amanda, who at times would play the shaman role, much to my chagrin (but also gratitude), turned to me and declared, “Maria, it’s time.” “Time for what?” I asked. She responded prophetically, “It’s time to let go of money. We don’t need it. We need to trust everything will come.”
I was pissed because I knew she was right and that it was the next level of this life game I was playing — a deeper surrender being asked of me. I teared up and glared at the pure blue sky. I tried to retort but couldn’t, so instead just huffed ahead of her dealing with the tension of my resistance.
But the tension released and I felt a sweet surrender with a flavor of security that is only available when you really let go. “You’re right,” I called back to her.
And so, we began to live without money at all. For the remaining months that we were on the road, we never spare-changed again and everything we needed came to us. We even began to get creative and put out specifics of what we wanted: a pocket knife, books to read, sweaters as the season began to turn. All of it came. And it came quickly.
For a period of my life, I experienced something that is quite rare in modern society: living completely without money, as well as without fear.
At that phase in my journey, at age 16, I was receiving dreams and visions of a time that was to come. A time I was preparing for when my survival skills would be put to necessary use. But what I was shown is that at that time, the important skill wouldn’t be so much physical survival, but spiritual survival.
When it comes down to it, we can all learn to survive in new and unknown circumstances, we’re hardwired for it, but it’s the inner strength and stability that has the highest value.
My attention turned back to this memory when the novel coronavirus made its way into the body of one human, and from there, into the collective body and mind of humanity. It all happened so fast, within a few weeks our entire global societal context shifted and is ever-shifting every day.
And how glorious that is.
It is such an exquisitely rare opportunity for the status quo to get so disrupted that we’re forced to question, ponder, feel our vulnerability, our fear, and our strength. To ponder our daily existence and what it’s comprised of (in the face of the rupture of our routines), to ponder the nature and meaning of our lives and of humanity’s place on the planet.
To tap into the part of us that is untouched, untouchable, even in the very face of death.
Strangely enough, I had a week this past January when I was pondering the nature of viruses. I googled what they are, how they function. I contemplated their intelligence, their deeper purpose, and I had a random thought that if there was ever a world war, they would win.
Understandably, that week of pondering hits me as serendipitous in light of COVID-19 having the power to knock down a modern society that held a normative stance of relative indestructibility. At least a perpetual, unsaid sense that life will continue on, business as usual to some degree, indefinitely.
Wars come and go, but for many of us those are far away and out of sight out of mind. But this humble little virus has brought humanity to its knees. And that is a place where we should be.
Instead of mourning a loss of the norm, I suggest we could be rejoicing. Not only for the powerful catalytic potential that this holds for our individual and collective evolution, but also because the norm is not normal.
4.6 million people die every year from air pollution, 1.25 million people die every year from car accidents. This is normal. That’s a lot of deaths. Those are deaths created by humans. We are not freaking out and staying home because of pollution, but we know about it. We’re not alarmed and abstaining from driving because of car crash fatalities, but we are aware of the danger.
We are choosing to make the coronavirus pandemic into what it is because humanity is ready for a change. It is not conscious, this choice we are making, but some deep force from within us and directly from the Earth herself, which actually is us — we are created from her, born from her, we are her intelligence manifest — is choosing to stop. To finally just stop.
To pause. To look around. To look within.
Yes, there are many deaths, but every day there are many deaths from our own normative actions. I am not being cavalier about death. But the truth that we all have to face is that we are all going to die and death is not the enemy.
Death is a doorway.
Maybe in your beliefs it is not. Maybe it is neither — a doorway or not — maybe it is both. Maybe it is quantum. But once we decide to treat it as such, we are able to make choices that are actually choices, rather than choices that are survival instincts running their program through us. When we liberate ourselves from the bondage of the fear of death, we are free to evolve to the next level of our potential.
Our freedom is not exclusive of our mortality. Our freedom — our immortality — exists concurrently with our mortality. It’s actually mortality that gives us the taste of immortality, because as we age I believe we all feel a strange split between the part of us that dies and that part of us that is eternal. Our spiritual selves become even clearer.
As children, that immortality is more brazened into our bones, our sinews spark with the sense of everlasting life.
Instead of mourning as the hands of time begin to decompose our earthly vessel, we should celebrate, for it gives us the opportunity to feel our limitlessness in the face of limitation and to understand that we have chosen to be in these mortal, destructible bodies in order to know ourselves as eternal, timeless, and indestructible.
Limitlessness embodying limitation in order to see itself, to know itself.
It is the same with separation. We are not actually separate from anything. This is not an esoteric idea. Science, even antiquated science (which is slowly and surely being updated with quantum physics) knows this. As Einstein said:
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness… Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
The coronavirus also bears the gift of this truth. The global body of humanity has become undeniable. I also believe that our connection to the Earth has become more apparent, as we can surely see the power of nature to decloak us of our false sense of security in one fell swoop. One little virus from one little bat, and here we are.
I want to mention that bats often represent death in the sense of letting go of the old, and bringing in the new. They are symbols of transition, of initiation, and the start of a new beginning. Symbolism may not seem of great import, but as author Caroline Elliot says, “the world is made of poetry.” Synchronicity points to the mandala of this self-creating dream that we are dreaming and that is dreaming us.
We are not separate… from anything. I am but a particle in a cosmic body that is much grander than my singular identity in one unique body. Yet, we are experiencing this “optical delusion” of separation because it is a huge part of our evolution, of our cosmic play and exploration. Time and space are used for a vehicle of understanding and education.
But now is a time to turn our attention to our true nature as the whole, that is both reflecting the particle and is the particle itself. As my good friend, brilliant author, Paul Levy says, “our psyche is not inside our skull, but rather we are inside our psyche.”
And as described by Bernardo Kastrup in Scientific American, “at bottom, what we call “matter” becomes pure abstraction, a phantasm… solidity and concreteness are qualities of our experience. The world measured, modeled and ultimately predicted by physics is the world of perceptions.”
And right now, we are manifesting this virus, this horrific and beautiful and profound moment, because we are trying to tell ourselves something crucial: that we need to heal. We need to heal individually and collectively. And those two things are one and the same.
We are at an evolutionary crossroads, and it is a blessed time to be alive.
You may think, ‘easy to say when you’re not infected or affected by the virus,’ but what I speak about is finding a peace within that is indestructible, even in the face of death. As all contexts change and phantasmagorically shift from terrifying to beautiful and back again, there is a watcher within that watches with a pleasant smile, because it is free and invulnerable in the face of all phenomena.
I believe it is time for us all to tap into the strength, stability, and freedom within ourselves. The joy without reason, the lover of the divine drama, taking pleasure in both life and death, taking pleasure in all the sensational experiences one can experience in this current form, on this current planet, in this fleeting life, that will be over in the blink of an eye. To tap into that which remains.
I began this article with a story about living money-free for a period of my life. That was an experiment with the rules. What it taught me is that the rules are bendable, and that we can create them. We were tapping into a place within us that is free from the restrictions of living from and for mere survival.
You only live as far as your beliefs will let you. Outside of the confines of societal and learned norms exists a world of possibilities. And each of us individually are the architects of our own reality. Some events that seem beyond our volition may have been chosen by us before this current incarnation.
You can either architect matter unconsciously, as most of us do most of the time, or begin to take responsibility for everything, including this virus, including the war in Syria, including Trump. To take responsibility and to find the reciprocal fractal aspect within your own individual particle mind/body.
Not only can we begin to take responsibility for everything that shows up on the grand stage of life, we can also begin to love everything we have created, both heavenly and horrific.
There is no within or without. That is an optical delusion, as Einstein said. Everything you see and experience is you. And when you truly realize this, you can shift what you experience much more rapidly and consciously.
You are not limited to a body, to one point of reference, as convincing as that is. And it’s meant to be convincing. Being limited to one identity is the way we learn about the total.
Once we begin to shake loose of everything we know, expect, and have been taught, we open ourselves to a creative realm of what this world can actually be. We are creating this pivotal moment together. This is a deep dream that we are dreaming, and it’s a profound opportunity, a rare gift.
What we can do is open to what it’s giving. To allow our fear and have compassion for it. To let go of our fear realizing the place within us that is indestructible, eternal, and playful. A playful creator having fun with this life game in all its sorrow and glory. And we can begin to create consciously, to choose new rules, to realize the rules we have come to accept are not concrete.
The norm we have come to know is a fabrication and not necessarily normal.
And the final frontier: to face death, to know that it is but a doorway to the next adventure. And when you begin to live creatively as a conscious creator, instead of reactively as an animal running from the fear of death, you are taking a leap into a new level of consciousness, into a new evolution of our species. And if you take this leap individually, you will see…
… everyone and everything took it with you.
Maria Allred is an award-winning filmmaker and writer who is “taking auteur theory to the next level” according to critic James Berardinelli. Since childhood, she has passionately studied painting, poetry, philosophy, creative non-fiction, and various forms of dance. In addition, for eight years she participated in Jungian-based process groups. Not coincidentally, her filmmaking is poetic, symbolic, and visually driven. Allred is intrigued by pushing cinematic expression into new terrains while also keeping the audience thoroughly entertained. In her non-fiction writing, she explores society, art, science, spirituality, and philosophy through a personal and creative lens. Critic Maggie Stacu raves about Allred, “To say that she is talented is an understatement. What she has created is, simply put, one of a kind. Not only that, but it’s poignant to our time.” You can connect with Maria via her website.