We all know by now to be careful what we wish for. A teacher of mine also told me that “unless you are willing to change in every area of your life, personal development is not for you.”
Case in point: The desire to be Free, to set an intention for Freedom, will leave no part of your life untouched. It will force you to examine parts of your life that you thought were safe. It will show you those things you never thought you might need to give up and force you to feel what it would be like to live without them.
The search for Freedom will expose all the things you are attached to. It will show you, too, how difficult it can be to let go of them.
You cannot determine in advance what path and form Freedom will take. And once in motion, the momentum can be unstoppable. All you can do is hang on and do your best to negotiate the often surprising twists and turns the path will take.
Some time ago, I asked myself the same question I usually ask clients: “What do you want?” It took some time for my mind to sort through all the things I knew I did not want, searching for some kind of clarity. The list of “do not wants” seemed endless. Eventually though, I got tired of getting those kinds of answers and the search turned back on itself.
Dreams and Attachment
Most often, we are taught early in our lives not to dream, that dreams are not real and to attach to them usually brings disappointment. That message is often reinforced several times as we travel our life-paths. Sometimes it seems that the very act of “wanting” something carries within it the seeds of failure to achieve it. The more we want, the more disappointing life can seem when they repeatedly do not manifest or if they do, it turns out that we didn’t really want that in the first place.
Yet dreams are the core of living. If we do not dream, if we do not have some kind of Vision of ourselves that we can believe in, we may drift aimlessly through life and in the end, find a different kind of disappointment, wondering what, after all, was my life about?
Remembering this led my search in a different direction, outside of the cone of Probable Futures and into the realm of Possible Futures. As I stepped outside of that limitation, the answer came quickly. I wanted what had always seemed impossible:
“I want to be Free. Free to choose in each moment, the next step of my life. I want to be able to live my own life, not a life of shoulds and should nots, ought-tos and ought-not-tos.” That is not my life, but the life of someone else living through me.
As the Wise One said: “The root of suffering is attachment.” It seemed to me that as long as one is attached, not to the dream but to the outcome, there is the potential of suffering. It seemed simple to circumscribe “attachment” from “the dream” and thereby to sidestep suffering. But it doesn’t really work that way.
Freedom, it seems, is not gained without cost.
The Freedom Journey
My first choice on the journey to this new destination was to clearly identify that I wanted to change the way I spend each day: to spend less time in the world of high tech, and to devote more time to the shamanic work that I have been doing for several years, and to writing. That is the future that I most resonate with, the one that brings the greatest feeling of joy.
Through the next six months, it worked fairly well. Clients from my tech world began to fall away for reasons that were not my own — mostly ones that I should have let go long ago — and new and wonderful opportunities began to appear in the shamanic realm. The revenue didn’t quite match up, and the direction from which funds arrived was much more unpredictable. But that was OK; I was clearly beginning to live my new life of intentionality.
However, things in other arenas that I had not expected also began to change. People whom I considered to be friends began to drift away, as well. My connection to my biological family, which has often been tentative, became even more tenuous. I would go for months with no contact at all. And connections even to some that I considered part of my spiritual family also began to slip away.
Through all of these unforeseen consequences, I could find nothing that I had done to cause all this to happen. For me, it all came down to movement in the Spirit world, working according to my intention to be Free. It was often very difficult to remain grounded and balanced as these many relations to an old path aligned differently.
All of this happened gradually really, so slowly that I did not pay much attention until my beloved 2×4 found and blind-sided me once again. Yet this time, as the blurry vision began to return and the whirling stars dissipated, it became very clear that what I had asked for was very near indeed.
But it was not as I had thought it would be.
I could find no arena of my life that had not been touched in some way. Many had been addressed, yet there was still a lifetime’s worth waiting to be. It was as though my old life, which had been in ICU for some time, finally had been put down.
The Journey of Renewal
There is an excitement about re-creating oneself from the ground up that can be greater than the fear of losing everything held dear.
Eventually, I saw that as the first part of my life had been created by others, so the last part of my life could be created by me. Though there remained significant chains and fears, at least I could see them, and seeing them, I could choose to address them — to transform them, or to cut them free.
Then, at last, the question became truly meaningful: What do I want?
The Journey of Renewal is a quest. The end-point on the horizon remained. I wanted more than ever to be Free to fully express myself through my life. And I realized for certain what had always seemed academic: that Freedom is not a destination. It is the path itself. It involves creating and holding on to the Dream of who I choose to be in the end.