Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living on the Edge

Most of us grew up with set notions of how life should be. Our parents told us what kind of education we should get, what kind of job we should get, what church to go to, what kind of life to expect with our marriage, house and all that.

Then somewhere along the way, we started to get the idea that we could change our lives in all these ways. We changed jobs several times, moved several times, perhaps gave up going to church altogether in favor of fashioning our own spiritual lives by adapting various practices from around the world, using the services of alternative healers.

Many of these changes came on waves of popular culture, and so the big picture of how much things have changed did not emerge until much later. For example, divorce became easier due to changes in laws. Once we decided that we would no longer stay in marriages that did not feel good and did not work for us, we detected a new air of freedom. We experienced a real shift. Marriage no longer meant that we had one chance and that we had to stick with our choice, good or bad. We could actually choose again and try again if we wanted.

Years ago, there were churches that would not welcome a person as a member if they were divorced. How many people started searching for a new church as a result of such rules? How many people searched for a new church when the church rules forbid birth control? Once that sense of freedom to choose a church kicked into gear, it went to the next step, which was to choose a way of relating to spirit that was completely without the structures of a church. Free from institutions making rules that we could not live with, we also kept that portion of our income for ourselves rather than tithing.

In the world of work, we discovered that changing jobs and changing careers could be an interesting and exciting thing to do. Those people who chose to stay with the same company for years had economic advantages for a while. But that is true for less and less people now that companies are doing away with pensions, health insurance, paid vacations and shutting down businesses to move jobs to other countries where they can pay employees even less. Sometimes we change because we choose to and sometimes we change because we have to.

Each of these significant changes did not come in one overnight decision. They were a gradual wave that built momentum. Throughout our entire lifetime, we have been faced with these opportunities to reinvent our selves.

Growing up in a world where so many of these plans were made for us and we were expected to follow them, it has not always been easy to embrace change. Sometimes there are so many choices that choosing becomes an overwhelming process. That is why we must find a way to be centered in our lives, to discover what exactly we like and don't like, what works best for us, what kind of people we like being with the most. Then making our choices accordingly.

We are now at a point where our way of thinking about the world around us, our way of perceiving and experiencing, become the starting point for reinventing our selves. We find ways to choose partners, work, spiritual practices and lifestyles that suit us.

It is not always easy making adjustments, but choices are now available like never before. It can be confusing and we do need support from those close to us, because as we reinvent our selves and our world, we can be both excited and scared living on the edge.

This is a perfect example of how we create in our lives, choosing from either love or fear. We are already on the edge between the world as we used to know it and the world as we now know it. And we are headed into a world which is not yet clear to us, although it will be a product of choosing between love and fear as we reinvent our selves and our world.

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