Friday, April 13, 2012

The Parable of the Trapeze

by Danaan Parry 

excerpt from his book 

'Warriors of the Heart: A handbook for Conflict Resolution'

Turning the fear of transformation into the 

transformation of fear...

Sometimes I feel like my life is a series of trapeze swings.  I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along, or for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars. 

Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment.  It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I'm in control of my life.  I know most of the right questions and even some of the answers.

But, every once in a while as I'm merrily (or even not so merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me.  It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze 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 and move to the new one.

Each time it happens to me I hope (no pray) that I won't have to let go of my old bar completely before I grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know I must totally release my grasp on my old bar and, for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I grab onto the new bar.

Each time, I am filled with terror.  It doesn't matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of the unknowing I have always made it.  I am each time afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between bars. I do it anyway. Perhaps that is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience.  No guarantees , no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives.

So, for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of "the past is gone, the future is not yet here".  It's called "transition" I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs.  I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched. 

I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a "nothing", a no-place between places.  Sure the old trapeze bar was real, and that new one coming towards me, I hope that's real too.  But the void in between?  Is that just a scary, confusing, disorienting nowhere that must be gotten through as fast and as consciously as possible.

NO!  What a wasted opportunity that would be.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change, the real growth, occurs for us.  Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places.  They should be honoured, even savoured.  Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out of control that can (but not necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.

"We cannot discover new oceans unless we have
the courage to lose sight of the shore"


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 between trapezes.  Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens.  It can be terrifying.  It can also be enlightening in the true sense of the world.  Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.

If the Warrior of the Heart  can be described in one term, then that term is change-maker.  Since the only place that change can really happen is out there, in between trapezes, then this is the place where the Heart Warrior belongs.

"A Warrior has and needs no place to stand"

Buddhist Tradition

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