Interesting how recent conversations with various friends resonate with past conversations with myself over the years, to wit, that Voice in my Head, dizzying, swirling and generally non-productive, saying “woulda, coulda, shoulda and what were you thinking?.” At best, this feels kinda like lost time stuck in traffic; at worst, we're talking endless hell. We've all been in that bad traffic jam and can't wait to get free. Or maybe instead of traffic, it's endless Pro/Con lists or endlessly searching oracles for the answer. These are helpful tools, don't get me wrong, but sometimes we just don't get anywhere. So then what?
I think it's deceptively easy watching others, with their skillfully efficient comings and goings, to-ings and fro-ings, and see there everything we lack in ourselves. Why we aren't somewhere, someone else already? We don't appreciate the degree to which dilly-dallying, second-guessing and self-recrimination are pandemic. Could those fellow travelers actually be venting invective instead of singing along to the radio? Maybe each of us are not the sole individual who is dissatisfied in the present and scared of the future. Fear (I commonly refer to it as the primal emotional pathogen), bottom line, keeps us safe (this would be part of the primal aspect). Too much fear, you're frozen stuck in the bottom line. Too little fear? Riskily untethered in chronic mania. In truth, how can we use this experience to move ourselves toward our desired destination, aka Easy Street?
Well, in my mind there's a couple options to pull from. One is to simply allows stuckness to play itself out until a meaningful signpost shows the way. Think of this as a temporary fog moving in; pretty soon it will clear. Although, playing the waiting game as your primary traveling tactic runs the risk of allowing passivity to reign over all. You become someone who things happen upon rather than someone who makes things happen. And isn't that pretty much the reason we started this discussion in the first place? In the long-play waiting-game scenario, imagine you're without a vehicle, stuck at the side of the road, at the mercy of whatever drops your way from passing traffic. Pretty powerless.
O-kay, so take some action. Yikes, easy to say, scary to do! Often stuckness is engendered, aided and abetted by Fear. Fear of making the wrong choice, taking the wrong action, the wrong what-have-you. Lately it seems to me it may not really matter which particular choice is made and specific action taken, especially when the real problem is inaction itself (obvious bone-head moves excepted, of course). Our lives are a steady stream of choices and actions, influences and responses, flowing from one to the next. We can only ever move ahead from where we are with what we've got.
Take note, here's a Caution Sign: as implied above, I'm not in any way advocating foolhardy action for action's sake nor base reaction rooted in blind passion. I like to believe we all try our best in any given moment. As you know, what constitutes “moments” can vary significantly from moment to moment. In other words, what constitutes our Best invariably varies through time and circumstances. After all, we are here in human guise, for better or worse.
Do your best, cut yourself a break and keep plugging away. Even though badly burned and ambushed by extreme plot twists in the past that led into fearfulness and craving reliable outcomes, remember one of Life's Great and Hard Challenges is to find a way to hold close to Faith and Trust (especially in the face of No Guarantees) that things work out in the desired direction. Why not? It's said you are what you eat, you are what you think. Why not head in the direction of your heart's desire?
“Easy to say, hard to do!” I hear you! Let's look to the Chinese Five Element story to help strengthen your game and understand how to work toward engendering your ideas of desired change.
We'll start at Wood, all about initiating and maintaining free flow of energy (think plants growing up through concrete). It's the element most sensitive to stuckness with the least amount of graciousness. In fact, disgruntled Wood can be downright ornery or completely shut down. But as you see in the picture here the elements are not in isolation, they are supported and guided by all the others (just like all of us). Notice Water is the parent of Wood and as such brings a foundation and connection to the primal life force allowing it to grow, just as a parent does. Life on our planet earth moves through generations via Water. Water's got Wood's back so Wood has strength and confidence to move freely. Fire, child of Wood, is the passionate spark of life, blossomed in counterbalance to its rooting in Water. Think life's full blooming expression in high summer. The Life Force moves out of Water, up through Wood to express itself in Fire. And that's only part of the story!
Earth element is associated with harvest time, a peaceful time of plenty when the living's easy. Earth is home base established from Fire, fortress for our personal strength and retreat for safety. With strength and safety on our side, we're more likely to take a chance to reach out and over Fear toward our desires. Metal is the capacity for discrimination, the wisdom to discern that which serves us and the ability to let go of that useless and weighty excess baggage. What's your value? Where's your value? What's in the way and is ready to be jettisoned?
Where are you strong in this story of the Five Elements, which areas need attention? We receive, process and enact information and ideas through all our senses. Can you effectively hear (Water) others' cautionary tales of speed bumps and traffic snarls? How far ahead down the road are you able to see (Wood)? Where are your touchstones (Earth) for stability? Do you know when you smell a rat (Metal) or when you are in full flower (Fire)?
One final small Caution Sign: be aware of busy work actions masquerading as Progress. Are you really moving ahead or simply circling around a rotary? Trust in yourself – you've gotten this far! Are my two cents the be-all and end-all? I don't think so! But if your perspective gets shifted a bit, you may find some action. Trust in yourself - you've gotten this far!
Images of Tarot cards from the popular and ubiquitous Waite-Rider deck. Deck imagery composed by EA Waite and painted by Pamela Coleman Smith (published by Rider Company in 1910).
Here's one place to find out more: https://www.tarot.com/tarot/decks/rider
For my way of thinking, the Five Element scheme is one way to organize and tell the story of the manifest world and our existence. Many refer to it as a system of correspondences. A couple places to find out more:
A very simple description:
An expanded chart of Five Element correspondences:
http://www.tcmstudent.com/theory/Five Element Theory.html
On a final note, how ironic is it to finally post here about being stuck with the previous entry a year ago?