Change is both inevitable and unavoidable. If that sounds esoteric AF it’s because, like most broad concepts (time, truth, beauty, love, disgust, happiness, etc) it is abstract. Change can be fluid like water, pregnancy, or breathing (sends a quick blessing over all of our good health), or abrupt like fire, birth, and death (repeats said blessing over all of our good health). While the fear of change resembling the latter may be palpable, chances are, those that serve our continued existence look more like breathing than a catastrophe. (We’re still here, aren’t we?)
The change indicates our continued participation in life itself and thus, a journey into some small element of the unknown. This part about change can be terrifying. When who we are in the present moment clings to the things we believe about the past or the future, we sometimes feel safe in the certainty of “knowing.” Our stories about our childhood feel 100% true. Worries about the future can feel so real that we begin to fear change, resist it even. Our default behaviors and efforts to survive can become primary hindrances to the process of transforming our spirit craves.
Even when we see potential beauty on the other side of embracing inevitable change, we sometimes avoid it entirely. Our bodies clench up and we grasp for ways to remain in control that mirror the familiar. As such, we put a pause on the very thing that makes us most alive: growth.
But, that’s not why you’re here. If you’re reading this, you want to change. You embrace metamorphosis.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave addresses this familiar human phenomenon. Let’s review…
Plato imagines a group of prisoners chained inside of a dark cave with their backs toward the sunlight and their faces toward the wall since birth. They are unable to turn their heads or move their bodies but the world around them carries on outdoors moving, living, and making sounds. To them, reality IS the shadows the light behind them casts against the wall. They name the shadows as concrete objects because that is what they see. As a community of prisoners, they agree that a tree only exists as the shadow of a tree. Their subjective perception is their complete understanding of reality.
One prisoner becomes free. He ventures outside and immediately experience change as actual physical pain. The sun hurts his eyes, images are blurry and distorted, rotating his head causes nothing but discomfort. The process of evolution and increased understanding dismantles everything he knows to be true and his instincts are to reject it. But, he is surrounded by people who know life differently than he does and seeks understanding. The process of change becomes more efficient when he enlists a new community and immerses himself in their alternating perspective. When he believes the shadows are the true objects, they explain to him that they are merely reflections of the real thing, cast by the sun. Our hero, now free, begins to surrender to a new understanding and expand his perceptions. He grows to know the sun and the diversity of truth. He sees shadows outside of the cave for what they really are and fully regards the beauty of it all.
Our newly enlightened hero decides to return to the cave and tell the rest of his mates what lies on the outside, on the other side of change. When he goes back into the darkness, his eyes can’t adjust. To his counterparts, he no longer understands the world and has detached from their reality, like a madman. To them, the prospect of change sparks fear, and their need to protect the validity of their understanding sparks anger. They defend their suffering existence, the devil they know, with violence.
Those of us who dare to step out of the cave know that there may be a period of discomfort as we adjust, but it is always worth it. Please note that while discomfort can be a challenge, it does not have to be hard or messy. “Hard” exists in the resistance. When we resist change, it becomes hard. Surrendering to transformation can be effortless. Let go of the belief that we are superior beings when we are forged in the fire of adversity. Release any attachments your ego has to the old “you are an overcomer” identity. All you have to do is turn around and walk in a new direction. Consider the possibility that it may be easy and your reward will be equally sweet.
We are all just doing our best to understand the bigger picture: The meaning of life, the definition of truth, the value of love, the quest for satiation and joy, the measures of success, the qualifiers for health and wellness. So many of these things are dependent upon our surroundings, the company we keep, and our internalized experience of reality. Things in the physical world that we regard as reality might simply be flawed reflections. So, don’t be afraid to shift the conditions of your perception of them. Take a walk outside of your cave and look around. Surrender to the experience of newness in the present moment and trust that everything you see and feel serves your expansion.
Thank you for the steps you are taking to serve your evolution. Thank you for elevating your Intention. Thank you for venturing into the sunshine to see the shadows outside of the cave.