I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon in the urgent care center with my sons, the eldest of which broke his wrist playing basketball at school. Here, in this final week of school, ready for summer to begin, this is not at all what we expected. His plan for the day was to join his classmates after school for a friend’s birthday party. Instead, his after school time consisted of stopping home to grab a few things and heading to the doctor.
My plan was to write an altogether different article. Yet here I am, course correcting and presented with an amazing opportunity to practice flexibility.
After the shock of the break began to wear off, and we returned home, wrist in splint with orders to see a specialist today, my 14 year old went into massive melt-down mode, expressing that his life was ruined because he would have to cancel his Friday birthday party at the bike park since he cannot ride; he would not be able to enjoy his upcoming vacation at the beach with his dad; he would not enjoy the last days of school; he would never be as strong again because he has now broken part of his body; etc. etc. The list of destroyed ideals and plans went on and on. This expression of despair in the face of trial is not so unusual for a 14 year old, and probably even less unusual for a 14 year old having just experienced significant trauma, but it was heart wrenching to witness nonetheless. And of course the truth of his statements remains to be seen.
After the melt down and a comforting, quiet meal, we snuggled up and he began to digest the experience. Before long, he started looking for possibilities. He considered ways he might actually be able to still have his birthday party, and enjoy his vacation. I so appreciated watching him open to possibilities, becoming more flexible within himself, and less certain that his life was ruined.
As I consider the art of flexibility, particularly in a situation like this, I see it as a tool of resilience. Without flexibility, my son would indeed continue to believe his life was destroyed, and may never recover. Yet with flexibility, he can allow movement to flow, seeing other perspectives and ideas, rather than being stuck in the ideals that were so significantly tested for him today. I cannot help but consider the many millions of depressed individuals in despair that might be supported with a greater capacity and practice of flexibility.
Everywhere I turn, I see people experiencing their own traumas, massive shifts, and significant challenges. We are living in a time in which the old stories are no longer serving us, yet we don’t quite know what the new stories are. The old paradigm is falling away, and the evolutionary process to move into a new paradigm is painful for most of us, at least some of the time.
Inner Power Tools is intended to offer support and inspiration, as well as effective tools for moving through, and more specifically being with, this time of what I like to call “living between worlds,” the old world falling away, and the new world yet to be created.
Flexibility is one of those important tools, and hopefully this story of how children so readily find these tools is an inspiration to support you in connecting with flexibility as well. Without flexibility, we can become deeply set in our ways, rigidifying and stagnating our growth, progress, opportunities and expression. Every tool we have requires a certain amount of precision for its effective use. In the case of flexibility, if we don’t have enough flexibility, we remain stuck. With too much, we can end up rolling over and having no sense of stability or foundation.
In my son’s case, his melt-down in connection with believing his life was ruined was a way for him to express and process the trauma he experienced. It allowed him to be real with his experience, not stuffing it or explaining it away. It also offered him a dose of reality around what had happened to him. In fact he cannot do, for a time, what he has been used to doing every day. He will not have the upcoming planned experiences as he originally envisioned. It was healthy and good for him to see the reality of the situation in this way. At the same time, as he moved through the processing and despair, he came to the other side.
The other side of despair includes hope.
He found hope for what might be possible, bringing flexibility to his previously rigid stance that life was ruined. He came to see things from a new perspective.
Life graciously gives us opportunities to see new perspectives. I continue to be amazed at how often I experience the opportunity to practice the in-streaming zodiacal teaching/virtue each month. It is no coincidence that in this month of the sun astronomically in Taurus, the teaching offered by this zodiacal constellation is “integrity/inner balance, combined with flexibility, becomes progress.” Too much of either tool takes us off course and we find ourselves either stuck or unstable.
Of course my son was not the only one who got to practice flexibility with this experience. My younger son and I certainly weren’t expecting to have our day end in the way it did. Yet all of us found ways to work with what we were given, bringing things to do while waiting in the urgent care, and working together to adjust our evening plans.
This opportunity to practice flexibility happens both in ourselves, and with others.
My heart was warmed when my younger son saw that my older son’s shoe was untied and, setting aside the craft project he brought to work on, got up to tie it for him, knowing his big brother couldn’t in his condition at that moment.
How do you practice flexibility? When a significant trauma, challenge, road block or unexpected event shakes things up, how do you course correct? Are you able to have compassion for yourself and the situation? Can you allow yourself to fully process things, move through the despair and darkness of uncertainty, and come to a place of hope? How do you offer flexibility to others around you, particularly when they don’t behave as you might expect?