Into the great wide open

Space. Vast open space. Sounds great? Sure? It can be terrifying!

So often we tell ourselves a story of how limited our lives are. We are tired of the tasks we have, the roles we play, the identities we embody, the relationships we’re in. Suffocating, limiting, claustrophobic. Something in us cries for room and space.

But is this really what we want?

How would we feel when some or all of that which defines us drops away and we are feeling space and openness for real?

Newborn to this world. And in the essence of the new, there is the unknown. No map, no plan, no guide – how easily fear arises, doubt arises, anxiety arises. Pandora’s treasure box opens up and confronts us with a thousand of questions. To meet the unknown is to meet life’s edge, without safety net.

So most of us will say occasionally, that we want to be free. I’d say more often than not, we mistake freedom for pleasantness, thinking that more freedom would mean less of the unpleasant stuff of daily struggles. Most of the time, we do not really want to be free, we want to be comfortable.

While we pretend we wish to be free, we do one thing only: We make sure the safety net is in place. In fact when we feel the slightest breeze of freedom on our skin, we rush into a place that feels safe. Symbolically, we built the wall a bit higher, shut the doors and windows – and take a breath of relief that once again we were able to fend off the wall-crumbling forces of the winds of change.

And then life sends us a hurricane. Life honestly couldn’t care less for all the safety gear we stockpiled. It blows everything away within a fortnight. Gone, simply, utterly gone. Suddenly the winds brush over our sensitive skin and we stand there in space – naked and shivering. And while before we might have sensed imprisonment, we now sense a new terror – we think we are not able to bear so much space.

Those things we carefully defined ourselves by – our roles and identities, our possessions and precious belongings are swept away. Our loved ones, with their care, attention, appreciation and presence have gone to other shores. Here we are, under the big sky, feeling lost.

That is space – but is this freedom?

Do we have to loose everything to become free?

And are we free when we have nothing left?

No, no, and no again.

Freedom is not a state of absence of something. Its secret lies in action.

We open up our hands and drop, what becomes heavy and burdensome. We let go of whatever stops us from responding to life. Freedom is the capacity to dance in the wide open space, twirling with what life presents, interacting, responding, answering to life’s questions. Not always easy, pleasant or a walk in the park. But a liberation from being driven, hunted and chased by our fears, beliefs and measurements.

And thus we ask – what am I holding on to, for dear life?

And why, dear o dear, am I so utterly afraid of letting go?

Why exactly do I assume, that I will be unhappy ever after, if I let go of what stops me from breathing freely?

What do I believe I couldn’t survive without?

And if we are lucky, we have time to open up to life like a flowering bud, petal by petal, taking trusting steps into open space. And yet sometimes it is the other way round and it is life that opens us up all of a sudden and faster than we feel comfortable with. And then we have take deep breaths, hold hands with our companions on the way and explore and ask the very same questions over and over again.

We finally face our fears and beliefs, instead of instinctively building just another sad little home out of the ruins of the castle eaten up by the hurricane. We finally turn around and face the winds. Step by step we grow into a big big pair of shoes set before us. Shoes that have always been there, waiting for us to fill them out.

We are human potential. We are made to dance and twirl. We are made to respond and find answers to the questions life throws at us.

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