By Natalie Rivera
Nothing stands still in life. Change is constant, inevitable. As you read these words you are moving, growing, changing. This being the case you would think we humans might be more accustomed to the change process. Instead we often live in resistance, or even fierce opposition, to change, and therefore to life itself. There are many reasons for this, but generally the cause is fear brought on by our unconscious attachment to our mind-made identity. By unconscious I mean we’re not aware of it. By attachment I mean a clinging-to, a dependency on. By mind-made identity I mean the who-we-think-we-are; our roles, our beliefs, other’s beliefs about us, our material goods, our accomplishments, our relationships, our failures, what we do for a living—our egos. In other words:
We cling to the circumstances that make up our current life situation because we believe that if they change we will lose part of our “self,” and therefore, we fear change.
There are many ways to dismantle this false identity, bring the unconscious into awareness, and break through the fear. But, those are all topics for another day. Today I’m going to discuss why we are seeing unprecedented change going on around us and why so many of us are choosing to ride the wave of change and seeking a deeper understanding of life through a spiritual path.
If you have ever been advised (or heard the idiom) “Don’t upset the applecart,” you are being told not to disturb the way things are done because it might ruin things. In general, we all tend to live by this often unspoken rule. We go about our lives collecting apples and piling them neatly into our carts, taking care not to “upset” the others. The apples here represent all of those aspects of the “mind-made identity” that we discussed above. When the road gets bumpy our primary goal is to traverse the challenge unscathed—applecart intact. A tremendous amount of our energy goes into sustaining the applecart. When we discover rotten apples, we usually discretely tuck them underneath a shiny one, afraid discarding it might cause too great a shift. When we encounter new apples we face them with an intense skepticism; we evaluate whether any new apples will shift the balance within the cart, or perhaps make us question the value of other items in the cart. Even a very appealing, potentially healing new apple—that deep down we know is “just right”—will quickly be passed by if we get even a hint that it might lead to a change in the contents or structure of our applecart.
“God forbid we’d have to shift, change, or adjust. Oh no, no, we mustn’t do that. Anything, but upsetting the applecart.”
So, we already agree that life is a continuous change process, and we’ve already acknowledged that humans have a strong tendency to resist this change. However, we left out one important point, and that is that the resistance to make large-scale changes—total transformations—is not something unique to humanity. All of the natural world appears to operate the same way. Natural scientists and evolutionary psychologists alike have shown us that all evolution (which simply means passing to a different stage or changing inherited traits) follows the same pattern: extremely long periods of time in which a particular species exists unchanged, followed by a rapid period of evolutionary growth. From fossil records we have been shown clearly that species change and adapt only after pushed to their limits of survival.
For instance, fossil records show compelling evidence that at some point(s) fish transformed in order to live on land. Imagine Earth covered in water. The earth’s inhabitants freely roamed the waters until the geologic forces of volcanoes and tectonic shifting (along with other processes) brought more and more of the earth’s land above the surface of the water. As groups of fish found themselves in pools of water cut off from the main ocean, they had to adapt to their new surroundings. As the water evaporated, and wasn’t being re-fed from another source, the fish were pushed to the brink of extinction. Their only means of survival was to evolve to life on land, which they did, growing legs and lungs and stepping foot onto dry land. And once they began this transition, it happened rather rapidly.
Back to the Applecart…
What does this have to do with the applecart? Well, humans are no different.
We wait until we are pushed to the brink of extinction before we are willing to change, to evolve, to look within for answers.
On a broad scale, many believe humans are pushing our limits and that without rapid, wide-spread change, both internally and in how we interact with our world, we will no longer be able to sustain our current form of existence. On an individual scale (partially in response to this broader change that’s occurring) we are each being pushed toward our personal evolution points.
As the economy has tumbled in the last decade, more and more of us are losing our jobs, our houses, our possessions, as well as the mind-made selves and identities that we have wrapped up in such things. Even those of us who haven’t been affected directly are feeling the fear that we might be next or the unease knowing that our world may never be the same. To put it plainly, our applecarts are being upset.
Tipped on its side, our apples spill out, destroying their precise arrangement, uncovering the rotten apples that were meticulously tucked out of site—now obvious and exposed, rotting in the sun. How embarrassing. Or not!
So many people are breathing a sigh of relief, often to their own surprise. No longer do they have to spend countless hours obsessing over their apples. No longer do they have to worry that someone might suspect, or even get a glimpse of, their rotten apples. No longer do they feel obligated to pass by apples that don’t neatly fit in their cart. It’s already upset, already “ruined.” So, now there’s nothing to lose.
With nothing left to cling to, we finally let go.
Once the applecart has tipped, people begin to truly look at what they have been storing. They examine the decay and toss out the ones that no longer serve them – the relationships, the jobs, the locations, the stuff. And just like the fish, once people have reached this point, evolution takes over and kicks it up a notch. Once you start the process of change and begin to look for a deeper meaning in life—beyond the identities and the stuff—more and more change keeps happening. Before you know it you have completely transformed.
And so has life. If you, too, have found yourself standing in awe of the remnants of your old life, your old identity, and finally in integrity with your True Self and on a path of exploration, join the club. You are not alone! So, knowing all of this, instead of resisting these changes, embrace them; go with the flow, allow them to transform you. Use the confusion, the pain, the newness, and the synchronicities and inspirations to awaken you to new possibilities and the deeper parts of your true self. Enjoy the journey!