And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky – so the space where I exist, and I want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
As we meander through life, we often find ourselves witnessing the lives of others. Whether it is merely a glimpse or a prolonged window into their inhabitation of the world, it sheds light onto our own experiences. What happens when the eye of the beholder is switched? How does the perception of ourselves change when we are forced to look at the entirety of our being?
At first, it is easy to judge yourself for past mistakes and scenarios. Looking back, we fall into the trap of creating stories. Stories of the selves we believed we were, attachments to people, places and situations which only upheld these longstanding beliefs. During childhood, experiences are accumulated with the associations of intense emotions. These emotions form a subconscious pattern, etching itself into the body. No matter how deeply engraved they are, through each bone and cell, the mould can still be reformed. The question is, are you willing to undo each stitch?
Multiple threads are weaved together from birth until death, the source of each strand is collated as we traverse our way through the world’s terrain. The life we had at home, the realisations made during our time in systematic education – about people, and how we fit into both worlds. These early experiences shape how we perceive our own existence, clinging onto false ideologies and projections. To unwind each thread and to trace its unravelling to the root, requires patience. As each thread falls apart, time is needed to repair each frayed end. To breathe love into an ending, reminding it of its strength and nurturing it until it is ready to weave a new tapestry.
It is innately human to have the desire to forget these experiences, to become blissfully unaware of the trials and tribulations which have taught us what we know today. However, we cannot. If we were to forget, we would lose the lessons learned as a result. To transform our relationship to these experiences, we must change our own perception of them and let the emotions be expressed. In the eyes of a child, I lived in fear. Fear of the present, past and future. Fear mutes expression in all aspects of the self, and enforces the need to control. To control who we are, and the world around us harvests a tremendous amount of energy. What if we relinquished control? What would happen to those stories we so dearly want to be true?
In letting go and accepting what was, we allow ourselves to revel in what is. Transmuting fear into wonder births creation. The ability to create a self which no longer needs to hide, and a life which mirrors the contents of its heart. Resisting reality hardens the heart and builds walls where none should be. To listen to your heart, after all these years, is to finally exhale. Holding one breath for such a long time creates constriction, reducing your sense of self and ultimately your own potential. The heart wants to expand, it needs to. It is only through expansion in which life can be truly lived.
Delving into the river’s depths, I rescued each fragment of the self. The light stitched each fragment together again, into a moving mosaic. The river, once stagnant, now flows its way into the earth. A heart-line, a cosmic connection. Fear loses its footing, allowing the river to transform into the ocean it has always yearned to be.
Which stories shape you into your sense of self? What has your heart always wanted to say? Are you willing to take heed, to let love lead?