And if a habit of fear can be broken, is it possible to cultivate a habit of joyous liberation instead?
I want to spend the next year finding out.
• • •
Like so many people do, I spent decades inside a self-created prison of emotional pain and unworthiness. It was life without parole, and that’s just how I wanted it. I liked it inside that tiny box. I felt comfortable in there, squeezing all of life’s delirious bounty down to a starvation trickle so as not to overwhelm myself with too much of anything.
I’m much freer now than I used to be, of course. But honestly, that isn’t saying a lot when you consider how infinitely free our potential actually is, in the grand scheme of things. Love it or hate it, the world has no boundaries or limits on what it can show us if we let it. So I’m still settling for tragic smallness, really. Most of us are.
Yet, these days I keep getting persistent glimmers that there are other ways to go about life. The rigid roadblocks I’ve habitually erected against my own happiness and fulfillment are sort of winking at me, shimmering like the transparent mirages they really are. Here’s the best way I can describe what’s been going on:
It’s as if lately I’ve been engaged in a sort of Victorian picture-postcard flirtation with what I’ll call Divine Possibility. A whole world of beautifully wide-open, potentially limitless freedom has been fluttering its eyelashes at me, lifting its petticoats to show me a delicate ankle, as it were, before skipping off with a giggle to hide behind the garden gate. Or so it seems.
But I know it’s really the other way around. Limitless freedom is patiently staring me right in the face—it’s me who’s playing coy, peeking at it bashfully from between my fingers. (And then I take a break to duck inside the potting shed, because apparently I still like to stand in the dark with my face to the wall, now and then. Smacking myself in the head occasionally with a trowel. Just because.)
But hey. At least I’m finally aware—after so many decades of clueless confinement—that the unstoppable flow of Divine Possibility and I are actually occupying the same lovely spring garden.
You’re there too, by the way.
• • •
So here I am, in my peculiar Victorian garden metaphor, rubbing my sleepy eyes and only just beginning to look with keen interest at the lush tangle of blooms and weeds running riot this way and that, growing with wild abandon all around me. Which is to say, I’m starting to really notice how the creative force operates within us, whether it’s wielded consciously or not.
This is not theory, or an exercise in the Law of Attraction handbook. I’m coming to recognize firsthand, for myself, that I—we—are all infinitely powerful creators, engaged in a grandly orchestrated ongoing dance with all of creation. We are 100% responsible for everything we call into our experience in each moment. We attract it, we create it, we make it all from scratch. We can’t not create. Our vibration draws similar vibration; like attracts like. We routinely bend people and situations to our will, mercilessly insisting they behave as we feel we deserve, for better and worse. And then we deny responsibility for any of it. The bad stuff is somebody else’s fault. The good stuff is God’s doing. (Or vice versa, depending on your worldview.)
But we’re creating it ourselves, because that’s what we do. It’s what we are. I know this not because some teacher or some book said it, but because I’m finally paying attention and seeing creation openly in action everywhere. The evidence is all around, if you’re only willing to look. To really see.
• • •
A dear friend recently asked a seemingly innocent question: What is your deepest desire? (My immediate thoughts naturally raced to all those cherished dreams still unfulfilled: I want to awaken fully, to know myself as I really am in Truth. I want to be profoundly helpful in the world.)
But the right answer, the only possible right answer that’s true 100% of the time for everyone is this: My deepest desire is whatever is occurring in my experience right now, in this moment.
No, I’m not parroting something I think an enlightened person would say. I’m not going all Byron Katie on your ass. I personally do not often (ok, ever) walk around 100% immersed in the utter perfection of present moment beingness. I do not know firsthand from my own experience that if something is occurring, that fact alone means it is perfect. I ain’t there yet.
However. I did see with shocking clarity the cooly neutral truth of that statement. Why is this moment my deepest desire? There is actually never a moment in time that I’m not experiencing the fulfillment of my deepest desire. Because that’s how creation works, and I am an infinitely powerful creator. What I say goes, always.
But ask me to name my deepest desire, and my mind automatically skitters off into ‘what I haven’t got yet’ future dream-fulfillment territory. But that’s a lie. That’s just another game of Victorian peekaboo.
In truth I am an infinitely powerful creator, and nothing/nobody can override my free will choice. Ever. Period. I automatically create and attract into my experience exactly what I want, moment by moment. Whatever I’m experiencing is whatever I want most to experience in that moment. What I desire most. That’s how it works. It can’t be any other way.
Naturally we don’t want to hear that, because it’s very hard to accept the news that we freely create our own bondage and pain. I get it. I’ve certainly been there, bitterly arguing I would never cause myself (or others!!) unhappiness or injustice. Oh, but the truth is, I would. I have, through free will choice. Unconscious free will choice, mostly, but free will choice nonetheless.
• • •
So now I’ve clearly seen not just the marionette strings on my hands and feet, I’ve finally recognized the true identity of the puppeteer. And I accept responsibility for both. Yet not a lot has changed, in my habitual daily decision-making process. But why is that? If the world is actually my oyster/lobster/seafood buffet, and creation is an ongoing inescapable fact of life in the world, I shouldn’t need to go on unconsciously choosing the same old starvation diet, right? I could be choosing all my future-based heart’s desires right now. In theory, anyway.
And that’s what got me wondering:
If I’m starting to know myself as an infinite creator, how come I still habitually make fear-based decisions? Why do I automatically play small, narrowing my own options, restricting my own freedom? And therefore the freedom of others?
So I’ve devised a very simple experiment. I want to find out fear’s actual role in the day-to-day creation process. For one year, I will stay alert to notice every time I make a decision, large or small, that is based in fear. (I know well the telltale signs when fear is present. I’m sure you do, too: A feeling of contraction or heaviness. Any sense of worry. Any desire to limit myself or others.)
As I consciously acknowledge the presence of that feeling state of fear, I will stop and ask: Is there another way to see this situation? Another solution or direction I can take that is not fear-based? And then I will wait to see what answers or insights might come. I pledge to walk down those unfamiliar new avenues in which fear plays no part. Maybe it will get less uncomfortable and strange each time I do it. Maybe the scenery will change a bit every time. Then as the months roll by, we’ll see what kinds of new vistas open up.
• • •
Freedom, (if you look at it closely) is actually freedom from fear. Freedom is feeling safe, peaceful and strong, expansive and loving in every moment, regardless of what is occurring around you. That’s true freedom. Inner freedom. It is not (to quote Janis Joplin) another word for nothing left to lose.
Yes, losing everything—and discovering you’ve survived anyway—is one way of moving beyond the fear of losing everything. But surely not the only way of attaining true freedom, true liberation.
I want to know myself as That. As One who walks the Earth in true freedom from fear. And yes, I’d like to be fully awake and ridiculously helpful to humanity while doing it. But right here and right now, I’ll start by holding my old habitual fear patterns up to the light. Not to battle them—just to gaze upon them with bemused curiosity. To put them aside, and then choose something different this time. And next time. And the time after that.
My current hypothesis is that fear is a habit. And therefore maybe the act of choosing fearlessly is just a muscle that needs to be developed. So, gym class starts now. I’ll be blogging my progress (both the forward and the backward kind) if it interests you. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes of it.