I used to think that changing your life or your self involved colossal effort. Knock down the entire house of your life and build a new one. But who can do that? It’ so overwhelming that we just repaint the shutters blue and call it good.
Some, knowing that, suggests making small changes, one by one. Dust one piece of furniture every day and after two weeks it will become a habit. That can be useful, but it seems backwards to me.
For me, habits, behaviors, and ways of being in the world are paper chains. One thing links back to another and another, down and down, until the chain vanishes in the lunar unconscious. A lot of what is fundamental to us is built on things we have no conscious knowledge of. Minding my dreams for three years has taught me that.
Consider this quote from Carl Jung:
“The archetypes have this peculiarity in common with the atomic world, which is demonstrating before our eyes that the more deeply the investigator penetrates into the universe of microphysics the more devastating are the explosive forces he finds enchained there. That the greatest effects come from the smallest causes has become patently clear not only in physics but in the field of psychological research as well. How often in the critical moments of life everything hangs on what appears to be a mere nothing!” Carl Gustav Jung The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales (italics mine)
Minding my dreams has given me a glimpse of the secret of true change. Whatever I want to change I trace back down the chain as far as possible, then cut that link. All the others will tumble. This disrupts the entire chain of events that ends in some unwanted habit or way of being.
If the lights are dim in your house, you don’t need to knock the whole house down to fix it. Just follow the faulty wire—through the light fixture, into the ceiling, across the wall, along the studs, down and down to the sub basement until you behold the gremlin or root gleefully twisting the wire.
Get rid of it. Make peace with it. Sing to it. Do whatever is needed until light shines out in every room in your house. “A great effect,” a great change, “coming from the smallest cause.” You don’t have to deal with every link.
The monster or gremlin or root will certainly return—it’s used to being there. Gradually I become more tuned to the slightest dimming of the lights. That’s my warning bell and now I KNOW what to do. I stop the chain at its source.
As I pay attention, the gremlin grows weaker and weaker, takes over less often. You might find that you have to follow the chain farther back. Beyond the gremlin lurks something else, something you couldn’t see before because the gremlin blocked the view.
It is all forever unfolding, if you just listen for the faintest warning bell, just listen and watch.
7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
Join us on April 12 when author Kevan J. Atteberry shares what makes him ring, resonate, and feel alive.