Die To The Past

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Today, Diane and I talked at length about dying to our pasts. She shared a potent meditation image – looking from her grave and in death no longer being invested in the limitations and attachments that previously confined her life. Her fears no longer mattered. She let go of her past and in so doing opened the way for growth and a new relationship with her future.

In story cycles, a character must leave behind all that they know in order to step into unknown territories. It is the movement away from the known, the comfortable, and the safe that is the metaphoric threshold to adventure and transformation. Leaving behind what you know is “story language” for dying to your past. Frodo will always return to the Shire but he will be a greatly changed. The Frodo that leaves on the adventure is not the same Frodo that returns. He knows too much about middle earth and himself to resume his former identity.

The caterpillar’s body does heroic battle resisting the cell replication that will eventually bring re-formation to a new way of being called butterfly. The caterpillar’s body reads the sweeping tide of change as cancer and fights back. This classic struggle within the caterpillar’s body of change meeting the conservative impulse ends when the resistance ends; the caterpillar can fight no more and surrenders the struggle. The imperative for change overwhelms the old identity; the caterpillar’s body releases the known and collapses into mush. Only then can the new form materialize and the new form is beyond the caterpillars capacity to imagine.

Diane’s meditation, Frodo’s journey, and the caterpillar’s process of transformation are the same metaphoric image. Each had to die to the past to step into the possible. The lesson over and over again, whether in story cycles, nature or human transformation, is that the new identity will always be greater than our wildest dreams. The only requirement is that we surrender the struggle, leave behind all that we know, experience the little death, and take a step.