We can’t take our old selves with our limited-thinking baggage into our new evolutionary selves. And why would we want to?
Life is a learning and growing process. It’s uncomfortable and rarely ever straightforward. It seems like every time I take a step forward, I take that same step back. We’ve all got things that are halting our progression, keeping us stuck and not embodying the next evolution of our character. But the funny thing is that it is us personally who are holding onto these things. Life’s energy wants to keep moving us forward, but we hold onto that which is behind us, that which may no longer serve us.
I’m really good at that, at fighting life’s current. It wants to take me higher, but I cannot take my old self with me.
The old Carter with his old behavioral and thought patterns, has to be left behind. That is a scary thing for most of us, because we are leaving behind the sense of self which we once had, the very thing that had made me, me. We have to leave that behind — not momentarily, but for good — and we’re leaving it behind for a potential, future self that we can’t yet see, can’t yet imagine. We don’t know who we are going to be next.
Why would we choose to leave our comforts behind then? Because at a certain point, fighting the current, holding onto these things that no longer serve us, becomes so painful, so tiring, that we have to let go. It’s the only way to feel life again, to reconnect with the self inside us that is fighting for room to blossom. We have to give it room to do so, which means we have to remove stuff from our minds and our lives; we have to let go of the shit we don’t need anymore. It’s almost always painful at first, but like a light bulb to the sun, that pain becomes overtaken by the newfound joy and life that now have space to enter us.
Now that I have this new great feeling of life, this new higher sense of self, this joy and drive and inspiration — wouldn’t it be great to include those things that used to make me happy with my new life? But, it doesn’t work that way, it never does. I would not be merely bringing these old things into my ‘new life’, I’d be choosing my old life over the new one and then I’d start to feel like I used to again, repeating the cycle. I’d start to feel the pain again that forced me to change in the first place. It’s like starting to see the light and then being thrown back into the shadows. It hurts. The only way to change is to change for good: take a step down a new path and then keep walking it; there is no going back.
Could you imagine a butterfly coming out of its cocoon and still thinking it was a caterpillar? Crawling around because it doesn’t realize that it can fly? Eating leaves because it doesn’t know it can access the flower’s sweet nectars? It’s kind of like that. It’s really tragicomic. Our next evolution is always right inside us waiting to become, but we have to let go of what we were before.
The butterfly is wise; it doesn’t think back to its caterpillar life, that’s over and done with.
We humans however, with our amazing abilities to think and romanticize the past, we keep going back to our caterpillar behavior because it is what we know, it is what we’ve always done, it is comfortable. To really become butterflies, we don’t get to go back to being caterpillars. Why would we even want to?
Sometimes a picture conveys a 1000 words — and this one of Carter, leaping forward off a cliff into the unknown waters below — depicts the next leg of his life’s journey. By the time this piece is live, he will have left the comforts of his old self behind as he traverses the Camino de Santiago; a pilgrimage he has embarked upon to further his personal evolution body, mind and soul, reaching for his best self.