In the essay Living within Patterns from his book Facing the Lion, Being the Lion: Finding Inner Courage Where It Lives Mark Nepo draws upon Hinduism to describe the three elemental forces in life, Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustainer and Shiva, the destroyer. These three forces are constantly at work in our lives – we create, sustain and destroy patterns. I’m really pretty comfortable with creating and especially sustaining but destroying, that one is not so easy for me. I’m a natural rule follower – I like to “get things right” and destruction never feels right to me. So instead I hold on, often way past the point of possibility and even comfort. And this holding on while it feels safe to me also keeps me small, stuck and isolated in my own privilege.
There is freedom in breaking out of patterns – destroying life as we know it. I believe that this is what we as a collective are doing right now, breaking free of the old patterns – the patterns that have served me as a white person of privilege but have not served my friends and neighbors of color and have in fact threatened their safety and very survival. This is at the heart of it – our systems that have oppressed for the sake of power and privilege must be undone and created newly. And destruction is scary and really dangerous, even life-threatening. I have no answers as to the “rightness” of what is happening right now in my city, but I do know this, change is here. And I’m asking myself how I can be the change – what patterns in my life need to be broken.
As Nepo says so eloquently "a constant tension lives here, as we are relentlessly creating patterns to make sense of our lives and then needing to break free of those that no longer fit who we are becoming. The goal then is not to eliminate that tension. ... We need to examine the nature of patterns and how healthy ones (meaningful practices) can calcify into unhealthy ones (habitual routines). ... We need to discern when the rigid ones just need to be broken so our heart can once again breathe." I'm left asking myself what are my rigid habitual routines that need to be broken open so my heart can breathe again? This is not necessarily to label them as bad but instead to see them and choose anew. I'd love to hear about new choices you want to make right now. Let's connect.
Caroline Cochran, PhD is a Certified Presence-Based® Coach and a Leadership Development Consultant with over 25 years of experience.