Saturday, June 16, 2007

Metaphors and Thresholds

Before I was born, my mother had some kind of "brain episode" which left her paralyzed on her left side for a period of several weeks. The diagnostic tools of the mid-fifties could not determine the cause, but she made a full recovery. A result of this episode was weakness in the muscles on her left side. So at my birth, I got stuck. The obstetrician had to reach in, hook his fingers under my arms and pull me out.

This story about my birth has been a metaphor for me. But I've always seen it as a negative one: When I get stuck in a tight spot, I'm always waiting for someone else to pull me out. Making big changes is too difficult for me. The change has to come from outside, pulling me along.

But now my thinking has changed. Call it a revelation, or an epiphany. Crossing thresholds is always difficult and always involves many folk. It is a community activity, of a sort. I have to push, but it is not about my efforts alone. Others must push and pull to get the job done.

We think we know everything about the universe. Before birth, it is all warm and watery and dark. Sounds are muffled. But then the space gets very tight, then tighter still. Our world, as we have known it, ends. We are squeezed into a very tight place, all the water goes away. Suddenly it becomes very cold and noisy and bright. We must start breathing, crying, moving. New sensations. A wild new world, completely different and scary.

Birthing is like that. We come to know all about this new universe, and then things get very tight. Things change again. And again. And again.

Still, with the crossing of every new threshold, it takes the help of others to bring us through.


Michael said...

You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone, as they say.

Father's Day must be especially poignant this year. May you discover its hidden blessings.

Lemuel said...

I love the essence of your epiphany! When we realize that we journey together and not alone, when we realize that others are there in those moments that some have described as something we must do by ourselves, then we know that we can do it. We - not I, not you - but we - together.

Ur-spo said...

what synchronicity!
this week I heard a seminar on energy of the body; there was a metaphor about the energies of the lower parts (tribe, money, sex etc.) flowing upward in an hourglass to the higher levels of energy (self). I thought of you -and here is your 'stuck' entry!

john said...

We are here to help you cross those thresholds. While you must have strength to start the journey, other factors like your friends and loved ones give you the extra strength that you will need.
Here's some strength for your journey!!

Raymond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Troll At Sea said...

Toasted Bear:

Hesitating on a threshold is a perfectly human, and understandable phenomenon.

But to continue your birth metaphor:
None of us, or certainly almost none of us, choose to leave the womb. It contracts and we are forcibly expelled.

On the other hand, most of us are also brought out into the light and given love beyond measure. Not a bad beginning to a new life, is it?

Hang in there, BT.


BentonQuest said...

That is why I disagree with most people's characterization of being born again. They characterize it as this nice wonderful change. But being born is scary, shocking, cold. Being born again as a Christian is a scary thing in my book. If it doesn't scare the s*** out of you, it probably didn't happen.

Oh, and you've been tagged!