Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Larger than Life

A version of this article first appeared in the June 3, 2007 issue of my inspirational newsletter.

Wednesday, June 18 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

Back in October 2006 when I was visiting Toronto, a friend treated me to a ticket to Barbra Streisand's first-ever concert performance in that city. Although we were sitting high in the rafters in a hockey arena that was anything but intimate, I was startled by how fully and personally her energy filled every corner of that venue.

"She's larger than life," I remember gushing to my friend at intermission.

I recalled that experience the first time I listened to the CD recording of the concert tour, some months after my return from Toronto. "That's what I want," I heard myself say at the time and was so startled by what seemed such a profoundly ego-driven thought that I was almost embarrassed.

But it wasn't until some months later that I fully understood both the Streisand experience and my inner voice. What I realized was that "larger than life" isn't about being famous. It simply means living larger than the restrictions and limitations we all carry so willingly through life. I also realized that access to that energy is not limited to the Barbra Streisands of the world, unless we choose for that to be so.

Even as our souls yearn for us to "play big," to discover our passion and live it to the fullest, our fearful self continues to seek out ways to hide and play small.

"Our deepest fear," writes Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love, "is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Perhaps even deeper than the fear she describes is the fear of experiencing and expressing our power out in the world, of being larger than life, of living beyond the self-imposed walls and barriers we create in the mistaken belief they will keep us safe.

They can't and they won't.

Our only safety resides in living our largest life to its fullest potential, in living our living our passion. In walking through life as though we are though nothing can stop, limit or restrict us.

As I write this, an old Cole Porter lyric keeps running through my head:

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in

At a literal level, the song is sung by a cowboy who longs for the endless space of the open range.

Yet it's also the song of every soul deprived of its fullest expression by the fences of a fearful mind, a soul that seeks only the limitlessness of its natural state.

Whatever you think of Barbra Streisand's talent or personality, when you are in her energy field, you touch that limitlessness and your soul cries out, "Me too! That's who I am, too!!"

Here in the Western world, where we have been taught to play small, we transfer all of our natural desire for the fenceless world of a life lived large to our movie stars and sports heroes.

If we can't play out our own passion and power, we play it out through a celebrity cult that's no healthier than any other cult, one we also find in countries with charismatic leaders/dictators, in religions with unapproachable gods and in all situations where we abdicate the expression of our infinite nature to someone or something outside of ourselves.

In my novel, The MoonQuest, very much a metaphor for all our journeys, the main character is destined for a greatness he continues to resist. Yet destiny, as he is constantly reminded, is not cast in stone. There is always a choice.

"Every choice you have ever made, has led to this moment. Your moment. Still, the power to make a different choice remains yours."

The power to choose is always ours. In every moment and through every situation, we're offered the opportunity to choose our greatness, our passion, our light.

It's what we do with each moment and situation that governs our destiny, that decides whether we live in our greatness or in the shadow of someone else's, that determines whether we build fences or tear them down.

In this moment, what do you choose?

A version of this article first appeared in the June 3, 2007 issue of my inspirational newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter (which also gets you e-mail versions of these blog posts), visit my web site or use the subscription blank in the sidebar.


Tessa said...

Passion! going beyond our safe nets! Not afraid of being amazing and powerful beings and showing that! Energy! all great and profound words. Thanks Mark for that blog!

Anonymous said...

Well, Mark David, I'm back from Sedona. And you know what: I'm changed...if I let me.

My Mom always used to say that I'm bigger than life. Since I work in the corp. world to earn $, I need to tone it down or they ditch me. I was raised Catholic and used to get beaten for being "different". I have known a number of covens in my (now) pagan world and some look down their noses at folks who aren't like them, too - the same brand of "strange", that is.

I'm nobody's martyr; I'm not afraid to suceed, I'm afraid to have the s*** kicked outta me when I'm temporarily down from failing. But it doesn't stop me from tryin' to sing my song. And, when I feel insulated from humans enough - like, when I'm dead-on right in thought, word and/or deed - my spirit is HUGE.

Bright blessings, Suze

Bethann Korsmit said...

It's hard to break out of one's self-imposed prison, but when that is achieved, the feeling is amazing.

Great post!

motherwort said...

Your blog reminds me of part of a Mary Oliver poem, fitting on this Summer Solstice:
The Summer's Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean --
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks for the Mary Oliver poem. She was an important influence for me some years back; it's great to rediscover her after all this time. She was introduced to me, by the way, by another wonderful poet -- David Whyte.

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