Staying at my friend Jill’s mother’s place in Perth September 2008.
Did I meet a friend of her mother’s?
A moment ago a magpie buried its head deeply into the lavender bush. Then it popped out with a long worm, snake, I couldn’t make out which. Slowly I got up as the worm snake broke into pieces, one of which wriggled in fear. Another magpie, bigger than this one seemed to notice, but was busy on the other side of the garden. As much of the worm snake that could be held in the spear like beak of the magpie was gathered and with a winding of its wings, it swooped off.
The larger one, with nearly a full back of white, sauntered itself across the lawn while I stood on the veranda. It came close, walked passed the bins and nearly into the open back of the garage. It kept eyeing me, checking on something. Was it hoping for a morsel to be fed, like the owner usually did when she was here? Was it checking to see how dangerous I was? It hopped up onto the veranda, about half a metre away from me, one eye on me and then, nonchalantly, it continued to saunter its way across, checking for food. It was as if it trusted me. I got a feeling of pleasure, “Ah isn’t that cool, the wild magpie trusts me”. Then I wondered, I started thinking about the work I am doing, and this chapter in the book. This key energy, this invisible virtue, this powerful value, this force which drives people and animals with immediate intention and motivation – Trust!!
I saw in the moment a gift to my understanding. And it was this. I anthropomorphised onto the magpie. I humanised the magpie. I gave it the ability to trust. And for good reason. It satisfied one of the core components of trust – to allow someone to get close to you. Yes he trusted me that I wouldn’t hurt him. (aha another magpie. Is it the first one, back into the same garden bed. It seems to be a she. The other seemed to be a he for sure. Off it meanders trotting towards the open garage door. It checks inside, nothing, and trots out. Clearly trusting me!!”)
Most of us like it when someone – the smaller and more vulnerable the better, allows us to get close to them. It’s because we know how it feels to be vulnerable to the dangers of being hurt by another being. We know how it feels to be small. When we are bigger and more powerful than say a little puppy dog, we are touched when the puppy snuggles up to us. It clearly trusts us and we enjoy the softness and the warmth. And something deep in the cells of our being lets go – not only do we feel totally safe, we feel liked and we even feel the big one – loved!!
So the magpie knew two things, based on past experience, (probably visited the home a lot and got morsels from Jill’s mum) I was unlikely to hurt him, in fact I may even give him a morsel of cheese. Secondly, he trusted himself. He knew that he would not place himself in danger enough that allowed him to get caught. He trusted his wings and his wits and I was tricked into thinking he trusted me. And because he did what he did, it worked. I felt good about myself. I was intrigued. I was amazed. But it was not the kind of trust that is necessary for the 11th commandment. On the contrary! Parading as deep trust, limited trust tricks us daily, keeps us calm and able to continue with our daily doings – shopping, driving cars, going into banks, taking off our clothes at beaches, doing police work etc. It is a partial trust. It parades as real trust and our instincts see it as real. It is a moment in which the energy of deep trust which we all seek, from way down deep in our subconscious, in the bones of our body, pops up, like seeds in a desert at the smell of rain.
Safety IS the first stage of trust, but it’s not enough for the injunction – Evolve Yourself. (Read the piece on tenderness and vulnerability for descriptions of the journey.) The mechanism of our instincts continually assess for safety. This mechanism continually draws energy from within – are we safe? It’s so quick. In the familiar space of a quiet, blue sky’d spring morning, relaxing, thinking, understanding, typing it up on the laptop, all I need for this mechanism to spring into action is a sudden sound – the swoop of a bird wings whooshing past, a loud hooter in the road, next door neighbour slams a door. In an instant, I am readied for fight, flight, camouflage or the last resort, acting. And then, again things settle into a degree of peacefulness and the small boost of adrenalin is replaced, maybe by endorphins and I regain my peace – to some extent.
The excess use of energy in a person during their day is a series of false alarms, each of which require energy to produce the “in case” hormones for fight, flight, camouflage or acting. Daily there are many moments in which threat is perceived before we can even think rationally about it and then calming happens. This is one of the mechanisms that uses excess energy and contributes to our exhaustion at the end of the day. Allowing oneself to relax can be a fear inducing thing because of the lack of trust in life. “Control Freaks” need to live in this zone because of their lack of trust that if they are not in control of the moment, things might go “wrong”. So we ‘suspend our disbelief’ and pretend and believe we are in control instead of knowing we aren’t. We give ourself the illusion of being in absolute control as it feels safer and we don’t know how to live wildly with relative control. Relatively in control means that we trust what we know and know we are changing and growing. We trust what we have, our wits, our competencies, the outcomes of engagement, the values we choose and the choices we make etc. We live with them as the journey unfolds, knowing that all we can take is one step! One Step! And change happens and transformation happens.
Total trust = total vulnerability – different for the physical and different for the emotional. Trust and vulnerability physically means figuratively baring all, being free to live, act and be in any way you like. It implies that feedback and fitting in plays it’s part in the process. Trust and vulnerability emotionally means opening oneself to tell one’s truth, one’s experience, because you trust that the other can bare it, that the other can be there and witness and be present with you in your vulnerability. This makes strength, for the warrior to show his or her shame, guilt and be supported to move forward and to grow through the forgiveness and the respect for the courage of opening. Emotional trust and vulnerability responds to the fear of rejection and exclusion – which unnerve us because they hit us powerfully at the centre of the brain that experiences physical pain. YES – they are the same and tell us we are in danger. Even when we really aren’t. This is THE big journey and awakening for humanity – the sleeping hidden dragon within – is supposed to protect, but it all to often over reacts in it’s primitive reptilian way and burns it’s fire on those that really are not in any way trying to actually harm us.
Mental and spiritual domains are quite private, not really accessible to control by others, but yes, mental and spiritual freedom relies on total safety in response to whatever it is that might cause harm, or even what is perceived to possibly cause harm. The challenge is that emotions are registered in the brain and so are thoughts and they are totally interconnected. Thoughts always have an emotion. Emotions always have thoughts, so rejection and exclusion lead to thoughts of insecurity and fear. Big challenges facing us people!!!
It seems likely that the primal reptilian brain dominates our responses to perceived and actual threat, through emotional responses, because it doesn’t go through a chain of command. All it needs is a stimulus which unthinkingly and instinctively produces the hormones of fight and flight – adrenalin and cortisol. From so called nothing, we are in fight and flight mode and we don’t even realise what the other did to make it happen. Conflict is about to happen!! Dangerous stuff our brains are!!
Is it that this force is so pervasive that is seeps out and back into our sub-conscious and our unconscious giving us the feeling that there is such a thing as mental or spiritual danger, when in fact, the fears of our mind generate the demons of our nightmares?