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You can't read the label from inside the jar

In her latest column, Cynthia Breadner reminds us that the world behind our eyes is a new frontier

“You can’t read the label from inside the jar!” Karen Collacutt, Triad Group

I have a vision in my head of being deep inside a pit of mud. It surrounds me and is holding me firm in its grip without sinking me and yet it is not releasing me either. I am just there stuck in it and mostly content to simply be there. It is no longer me that is in this pit, it is now a nameless faceless person hanging out in this pit of mud. As I now watch from outside the jar, they attempt to move now and again, however, the effort is huge, because the mud is thick and sticky. I can see around this personification of human replication, the complete picture. The body itself is tired and it is cumbersome with worry and angst. They have been there a long time. Taking rest there, nutrition, as well as some comfort. The comfort comes from a perceived knowledge or thinking that they are not sinking any deeper.

As I watch from the distance, my new perch, I can see the timeline from the beginning and can witness how they were not always this deep in the mud. Looking back along the timeline, I see times where their knees are showing and other times when their feet were actually on the surface, the whole body free. There are other times on the timeline where I can only see the head and shoulders and the hands. The elbows are deeply buried. Sloth-like movement creates exhaustion and apathy and lethargically they push and move within the pool. The movements over the timeline are so incrementally slow it is obvious they do not realize any change has ever occurred. I watch.

There is a story of a frog. How when, and if, you were to place a frog into a large pot of water and put the pot on low heat the frog would slowly cook without realizing it is happening. Slowing dying in the pot and never knowing enough to jump out. Just one day they are done, finished and life is gone from them. Slipped through their fingers as the frog slowly simmered life away. Just one day it is done. The hot water, the silent killer, quietly bringing the frog to the end of its life.

What might prompt the frog or the person in the mud to realize they are slowly dying and get out of their situation? What might change? The environment does not change unless we see what is happening and decide something different. Whether in a pot of water or in a sinkhole of mud, unless there is curiosity to do better, be better or want better we remain inside the jar. Looking around, seeking where the label is, creates curiosity and awareness of our place in this world.

I work daily with aging adults and it is a reminder of how we can stay stuck for years believing something that is not true. Stuck in our own limiting world, inside the jar, watching through the glass dimly as a world we wish we could engage with moves past us. Many lament the lost years where they were unable to change or to choose. This is sad. Most recently I found joy! I was talking with a woman, 93 years old, who was an airplane mechanic in the war. She said she signed up because at 17 ½ if you did not sign up, they signed up for you and sent you where they needed you. She said she did not like the water so did not want the navy and really did not want the army so chose to go into the air force. She met the man who became her husband, and he was a navigator. She said she would repair the planes and then had to fly them to prove she trusted her work. She also needed them to be safe for her man to fly in as well. They went on to work the railway and she said she carried her sandals along and when necessary they would pick up their bed and walk. Their life was one of migration and moving around until her wings were clipped and she birthed the first of a few children. She would read the label of her life and definitely was not one to say life happened to her. She made life happen. While she told me the same story a couple of times she does so with joy and with peace in her heart and her contentment to be where she is flowed from her.

As the person in the mud is encumbered by the environment, just beyond their reach is always a way out. A vine or a branch that is just beyond reach, the challenge is the strength and the tenacity to reach it, to push the self far enough and stretch for more. The aging people I spend time with are the evidence of this reaching and survival. I am reminded that at 61 years old, I could have 30 more years of living on this earth and that spurs me on to figure out how I want to spend it. Wallowing and encumbered by limiting thoughts and beliefs or stretching and reaching for more. Looking at our lives and deciding whether we can see the label or not is the first step. Are we in it or are we watching it? Victims sit in it and observers change direction.

The world behind our eyes is a new frontier. Most recently, I worked with over 20 students working their way through the e-learning class I have developed, teaching about spirituality, and I also finished up a six-week grief class with a small group of folks. I watched all of them pull back and observe their own lives and more importantly I watched all of them observe the lives of others. Behind every set of eyes is a soul at work and in the vast crevasses of our minds is a whole new frontier waiting to be explored. When we sit victim slowly stewing in the hot pot or contently live in the pit of mud, we cannot read the label from inside these jars and the new frontier stays a vast wasteland of unchartered territory. Oh, how I live to see people grow and explore their own possibilities. My favourite place is in the world of my grandsons, all three of them, as they reach and stretch for more. As I look at the possibility of 30 more years in my life, I can watch all those around me and see where they are in 30 years. Where will you be in 30 years?  What are you going to do in your next 30 years 

Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker and offers specialized care in Applied Metapsychology with special attention to trauma resolution. She volunteers at hospice, works as a LTC chaplain and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for client and family. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today!

Cynthia Breadner

About the Author: Cynthia Breadner

Writer Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker providing one-on-one support at
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