There is a curious mural on a building facing the back of our garden. It shows two giant hands, as if they were reaching down from heaven, cupping a pretty, green globe, like a delicate plant or sapling. The image is part of an advertisement for a real estate developer and I have always wondered what made them choose this subject and ever since I spotted it, I cannot help but marvel at the symbolism. It can be examined easily from my favorite spot in the garden, a white whicker chair at the edge of the sunny lawn, shaded by a yellow rose bush, that has been there since I was a child.
When I was growing up, sheltered and secure behind the dense hedges and the wrought iron fence enclosing the garden, the outside world, images of foreign countries, glittering cities, dark forests and the deep sea, was brought alive for me by listening to stories and looking at the images of books. I was a child of imagination, as all children are, and when I read, or was read to, the words and pictures always took me on a journey of excitement and exaltation. I lived through these books, moved with the dancing letters and their images and resonance followed me into my dreams, where they created magical places and wondrous adventures, that sometimes became so real, I could literally feel myself living out the scenery or character. I was called a bookworm, but nothing was more exciting to me than to plunge into an adventure penned between the pages of a book, that I went to pick out from the library, or later found on the shelves of my parent’s bookcases. I loved all books and they inspired my world of imagination, soon to be reflected in my own experiences.
When I was older and the beckoning of the books turned into a call to dry discipline, their methodical content demanding will-power and memorization, offering wrought words to be ruminated and recalled, no longer intuited and experienced, I lost the sense of sheer magic and the potentiality of getting lost in the world of imagination, the interplay between the verbal and the visual, that enchanted and inspired my childhood. The adult in me took over, responsible, serious and controlled, yet deep inside gravely missing the freedom of expression, the creative creature in me forever tugging against the constraints of reason and responsibility.
I could talk before I could walk and words kept spouting from my mouth, always reciting, always recounting, expressing experiences and enchantment, often carried away by excitement. “Look how she can talk”, people would say and words kept flowing, forming phrases, sentences and rhymes, in joyous communion with my ow soul. I was a story teller, easily connecting impressions and images, imagined and intuited, and once I mastered reading and writing, I discovered the art of book making, my own stories and drawings as a reflection of my desire to express my inner world, exactly as I perceived it. ” Our little poet”, declared my teacher, who loved my writings and encouraged the unending stream of words that kept flowing from my mouth and from my pen.
But I was growing up too, and even though I do not remember a particular instant, the free flow of creativity and expression got curtailed continuously by expectations and education. The reins were put on, swiftly and softly, with good intention but also insistent impact on the freedom that I was used to enjoy and express.
When I was between three and six years old, I often had to stay in bed with angina, a febrile inflammation of the tonsils. They finally came out in the summer before I started school. It was a routine procedure for many children of my age, and I was mostly enthralled by a promise of ice cream, which was my ultimate motivation, as I was never allowed even a small cone of the frozen delight, due to my cavernous and unforgiving tonsils.
At the time they still used gas for anaesthesia, and remember vividly that a mask was put over my mouth and nose. I felt like suffocating and dying, so I held my breath in sheer and utter terror, until I could not it hold back any longer and lost consciousness.
I woke up vomiting, I was in pain and could not speak and besides being traumatizing, it was a frustrating experience on top of it, because I remember the crushing disappointment when did not get the promised ice cream, anticipated to cool and sooth my aching throat. In autumn I started school and stayed healthy all year round, but I had begun to lose my true voice, became much more reluctant and considerate in my expression, and mostly withdrew into my own secret world. I still found myself comforted by the promise of the words emerging from my books, but less and less I felt touched and inspired by their energy and vibration.
The more I understand how body, soul and spirit are related, the more I am able to decipher the subtle language of symptoms. And even though I realize it is all story pointing to something on a much larger, energetic level, I also understand the purpose of the narrative : to connect with the resistance caused by beliefs, compromising the unimpeded expression of spirit.
In my case it expressed itself as a sore throat due to chronic inflammation of the tonsils, angina (tonsillaris), an interesting word from Latin origin meaning „to throttle“. The word „anger“ is related to it, and tonsillitis clearly is about a feeling of having to please others, or a fear that others are judging you.Trying to appease the people around you by going out of your way for them, and so blocking the flow of expression and creativity. For some reason I had this going on from an early age, an increasingly stifled creativity, if you will, because I somehow came to believe it was more about others than it was about myself. It was not due anything that had been done to me, in the contrary, I have always been encouraged and supported, but it came about through an infantile interpretation of circumstances, reinforced by encouragement and education to comply with what was assumed as normal social behavior. It is so interesting to see how far back this has started, innocently through common events in childhood, and yet they persistently affected choices and curricula throughout my life, determining a path that served parts of me, but not all of me.
I felt the throttle all my life, and at once I can see many analogies in my family as well as in the collective, a compulsive tendency that harbors a belief in hard work, discipline and merit that only came after struggle and difficulty. Typically, I have always been around prosperity and abundance, but it came with the air of self-sacrifice, hard labour and ever so often the thwarted dreams of affluence coming with ease. No wonder, for at the bottom of this lies a stubborn holding back of ones own gift of genius, perhaps because of a vague fear of judgement, and it fuels the anger of not being allowed to express oneself, a stubborn belief of having to please others, play by their rules, aggravated by a fear of death “upon inspiration“.
So I have been literally throttling my own creativity and expression, holding it back by will, and seeing it is enough for the energy to shift. A relaxation of the throat allowing the ease of inspiration, trusting the elegance and essence of the moment. The sigh of relief to see a happy, prosperous existence, that enables me to do what I want to do, with natural ease and joy, without fearing the negative consequences, retribution or judgement, that are all in the mind – made up, to make the play interesting, because when the player finally find out about the ruse, one cannot hold back the laughter about the cosmic joke.
This insight came with the realization that I have been awful to myself, all my life. My own, worst critic and jailor, relentless and cruel, my only escape distraction to avoid the boredom and emptiness of holding myself back from the well that nourished me in the early days of my life. And at the moment I saw it all clearly, that a minor medical procedure many, many years ago has had a major effect on my choices in life and that it was easy to simply shift the energy of lack and limitation to flowing freely, there was a ring at the door. It was a man from the utility company company for a gas line pressure test. He was a lovely man, with a broad smile and very bad teeth, but kind and chatty. We talked about his dog as we went through the garden and then into the basement where he checked the pipes and pressure, and then I heard him saying: “All is well”.
I came back to live in the house of my childhood about two and a half years ago. It was an unexpected move, but one I took in my stride and being back in my childhood home prompted me to re-connect with my original desire, something that has been lost over the years of following reason and rationale, buried under false assumptions and learned attitudes, the habitual demeanor of an assimilated and avoiding artist, holding back her voice and power. This is what I came back here to find – my own true voice and the courage to listen to it, as well as to retrieve it from it’s perceived prison and allow it to inspire my action.
On this journey we all hold a piece of the puzzle. It is hidden in the story, but also reflected in our surrounding. When I look at the image of a whole world being handed to me, as a tiny sapling that still needs a lot of care, I do remember so many instances from my own past. My early dreams of adventure, excitement and exploration all came true, as most of my life I kept traveling to far away and exotic places, I got to live in foreign countries, even moved to another continent. I held many jobs with worldwide responsibilty and I have been a wanderer all my life, perhaps with exception of the past 7 years, that were spent as a hermit in my hometown, exploring and excavating what I had left behind, when I went out in the world the first time, so my wanderlust could come back, not only serving parts of me, but all of me.
“The first man, Adam, became a living Soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” This quote came to me not to long ago and I kept pondering it, in particular the evolutionary steps involved to becoming a life giving spirit, moving beyond the transparent boundaries of the individuation of our soul. It does take courage and faith to go to the unknown land, as it will come with challenges to test the willingness to slip out of the individual, tribal and collective agreements, but what opens up is a memory of deliberate creation and how we chose our experiences. Standing at the beginning of the next episode of my life, I know this is something I will keep exploring and expressing in ways that are not yet know to me, but it will include writing and speaking about the empowering aspects of existence and how to move beyond the perceived limitations, that keep us in the prison of our conditioned mind.
I am reminded of a quote by Eckhart Tolle: “The basis for true change is freedom from negativity. And that’s what acceptance implies: no negativity about what is. And then you see what this moment requires: what is it that is required now so that life can express itself more fully?”
And so I am closing with another instance from my life, so rich in symbolism and miracle. A few days ago I took a walk and came across a field, ripe for harvest. “How curious this is”, I said to myself, “it’s still a few months until harvest”.
A few days later I heard the answer in a sermon, reflecting on John 4:35
“Open your eyes, look at the field, for they are already ripe for the harvest…”