It's Time to Wake Up! #50 #cong17

By Eileen Forrestal.

The Cave You Fear To Enter …

For some people the world seems like a ‘dark’ place.

In all our lives, we often experience ‘dark’ moments.

In each of us, we can have our own ‘dark’ thoughts.

There is no such ‘thing’ as ‘Dark’ however, we only know dark in the context of light, ie in its absence.

The way to eliminate darkness in a room is to ‘switch’ on a light.

The darkness of the night disappears with the rising sun.

Darkness in a spooky corner will be eliminated when we shine a light on it.

What about the ‘dark thoughts’ in our mind ? Would simply shining a light on them cause them to disappear?

Dark thoughts are accompanied by certain moods and feelings, to all of which we ascribe certain words. The same words are also the most powerful tools that we have for throwing (the proverbial) light on any subject.

Darkness is often associated with fear. Fear of dark caves, dark houses, dark nights …. In olden times whatever happened in the hours of darkness was a mystery, it was scary and all sorts of explanations were given for ‘things that go bump in the night.

We are all scared of the dark! Our ‘brain’ or maybe our ‘eyes’ have not yet been updated to be comfortable in the dark. Is the cat really ‘scared-y’!!

Much of our fear of darkness relates to the unseen and unknown.

In the day-light world – what could there possibly be to fear? Sure, the tiger running towards us would be a terrifying experience, but failing that, what is we actually fear?

We fear what we can’t see, what we don’t know and what we don’t understand.

My favourite quote is from Joseph Campbell  ‘the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek’.

I also  love the quote from Marianne Williamson as quoted by Nelson Mandela  –  Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us’.

Only when we risk asking a question have we any hope of getting an answer.

We  have the gift of language …. a remarkable tool - and in language we can actually ‘shine a light’ on our fears by asking what are they and where do they come from. The answer may liberate us. The truth may indeed set us free!

Someone asked me recently what was I afraid of ?

I answered honestly – “dying without ever having been known”.

That answer brought another question.

How could I be known?

I must show up as who I am and risk being seen and heard.

This was the cave I feared to enter … but would it hold the treasure I sought?

I had spent over 30 years avoiding this -  hiding, in silence and for 20 years, putting people to sleep. I was an Anaesthetist. No one ‘knew me’.

Why did I become a Doctor – it was ‘the longest course in college’! I had a ‘stammer’ and a fear of speaking - I feared being judged, mocked, embarrassed, and misunderstood.

I believed a ‘job’ that required speaking to people, even on the telephone, was not possible for me. I decided I would stay in school …. for as long as possible ….

But they say ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ … I was soon ‘trapped’ in a career that was not ‘who I was’ but, it kept me ‘safe’. I made the best of it. I was smart and hardworking. Over the years I lost something. I lost heart. I was doing well was but I had no voice. I occurred for myself as small and ‘powerless’ … and, slowly but surely, a part of me died, (or slept / went unconscious)  I had given up on my dreams. I had actually dreamed about being on the stage … in truth I wanted to be Shirley Temple … or Anyone But Eileen Forrestal … in fact anyone for whom the words came easily out of their mouths.

Inevitably, my career stalled. Yes, I was materially wealthy, outwardly ‘successful’ but I was dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

My marriage failed. My relationship with myself was suffering.

I asked myself ‘how did this happen to me ‘? Where did it all go wrong?

Was I sleep walking through life patiently waiting for it all to work out in the end?

Was I driving my own bus to where I wanted to go or was the bus diving me?

Did I have any ‘say’ in how my life went?

Had I fallen asleep at the wheel, and how many years ago?

Was being afraid of the answer a good enough reason not to ask the question?

Is curiosity not the key to everything …

If I didn’t ask the answer would always be No …. and there would be no opportunity ….

Was the fear of holding on now greater than the fear of letting go?

“The way out of the trap is into the trap”.

What was my trap?

The fear.

What was my fear … stuttering and being judged ?

How could I get out of the trap?

Go into the trap. Feel the fear and do it anyway…

Speak up  … risk the stutter ..

and risk being judged.

I spoke and I spoke the truth about my fear … clearly and  without hesitation.

What Happened?

People listened to what I had to say and I was not judged.

I was so happy

People said I was shining

I was out …. In the light and I loved it.

I went on to speak on radio … and Dragons Den … and have stood in front of large groups of people … speaking fluently – this now was life beyond my dreams.

My marriage breakdown was a a Wake Up call for me.

Instead of looking for someone to blame, I took the courage to look inside. The road to happiness is an inward journey.

We don’t often hear the ‘wake up’ calls in life, not until they are really loud!

We may be shaken by a medical diagnosis or an unfortunate accident or close call. Some of us may have sufficient time to make good the rest of our lives; others are not so lucky.

We stay ‘asleep’, blissfully unaware of the enormous possibilities that lie just outside our ‘comfort zone’.

We build our walls to keep us safe, fearing the darkness outside, where in fact, perhaps we have built walls keeping our fears locked inside.

We all recognise the happiness of children at play – curiously engaging with the world, not afraid to ask questions … but why ? but why? but why?

And happy to make up their own answers; If an ‘adult’ is not giving a satisfactory answer what’s wrong with ’making up’ a new and better one???

Children shine their innovative light all the time … until someone ‘puts it out’ with a thoughtless response or harsh judgement or a cruel comment.  As adults perhaps we fear the same ‘punishment’ when we ask an honest question?

In life, we are always on the edge of the unknown.

We often ascribe the fear of change to a fear of the future – like it is some unknown land that we will suddenly find ourselves in – unprepared  and ill-equipped. So we look back to find comfort in the familiar.

But we are all now living in this mythical place that we called ‘the future’ yesterday, or last week, or last year, or 50 years ago…. and we are ok.

The future is there to be filled and will appear bright or dark depending on what we fill it with - our dreams or our fears.

True innovation requires new and creative thinking.

A new answer requires a new question, asked in a new way, desiring a new solution, creating a new future; an old problem viewed through a new lens … with the sleep rubbed from our eyes… awake and looking newly at the world … noticing everything … without fear … like a new born baby or someone waking from a deep sleep or an anaesthetic … as if seeing the world for the first time…. and wondering what it might be like if ….

It is our privilege (and responsibility) as human beings to be able to imagine an exciting and inspiring future, to be able to speak it into existence and to take the actions necessary to realise it. Everything that exists in the world today existed first as a thought in a person’s mind. We need the confidence to ‘shine an innovative light’ into the unknown future. We need new and innovative thinking to create the visions that will inspire the next generation to design a better, fairer world.

As an anaesthetist I had a chance every day to say Wake Up! Can you hear me.... It’s time to wake up….. time to Rise and Shine ....

So, I say again, not as an Anaesthetist this time …. Wake Up and Shine Your Innovative Light.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. We are all born to shine.  ”As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie