A guy I know once told me about this theory his shaman shared with him. (Yup, his shaman.) The shaman said that before we’re born, we actually choose the life we are going to lead, based on the challenges we want to face and lessons we’d like to learn. Right down to every detail, we know exactly what we’re getting into. We asked for each thing, explicitly. We gather everyone we’re going to know or interact with in that life, and we tell them exactly what we’re choosing, what we want to learn, and how we hope our earth self will handle it. The shaman suggested that this is a thing we perform over and over.
I immediately loved this idea. It flooded me with a sense of relief and inspiration. And I’ve been pondering this reaction to the idea ever since.
This morning it hit me: This idea gives me agency. False agency, perhaps, but agency nonetheless. I really like the idea that in this shaman’s reality, I sat down and deliberately chose everything about my life. I can picture myself there in a room of familiar faces describing what I’m about to do:
“Alright, you guys. This is going to be an adventurous one! I’m going to have this rich, artistic, chaotic, warm and loving first few years of life, full of color and music and love. Then things are going to get rough… in like… a lot of different and super difficult ways. There’s going to be family difficulty. There’s going to be really serious, mysterious, shifting and long-lasting illness. There’s going to be these super challenged romantic relationships. There will be huge financial burden. Shit, I’m going to lose absolutely everything right there in the first third of the experience. There’s going to be so much internal strife and frustration and longing. I chose these predicaments that are going to make earth me feel really desperate, afraid and alone. I’ll have a lot of success and do a lot of fun things, but I’m also going to really suffer. And I’m doing this because I want to learn to detach from expectation, transcend minutia, practice being really present and accepting, and get really good at cultivating gratitude. I want to find richness in the difficulty. I want to feel strong, powerful and resilient. I want to be unbreakable… not because I overcame these things… not because I wasn’t broken… but because I learned to live in brokenness, celebrate my humanity, and find beauty right there amidst all the pain.
You guys are going to have an interesting time with this one too. Some of you won’t know how respond to me. A lot of you won’t know what to say. Some of you will want to fix everything all away… the reality will be too hard for you to sit with. A bunch of you will be like ‘what happened now?!’ about a hundred times throughout this life! It’s not going to be easy to handle this earth me. I’ll be complex, sensitive, cautious and afraid. But some of you will be drawn to me. Some of you will relate. Some of you will like how raw I will become, how open, sharing, and expressive. Some of you will, like me, find strength in the act of standing naked and unarmed, wrecked in the face of a cruel earth yelling defiantly ‘I’M STILL HERE’. Either way, I believe this pursuit will be a beautiful expression of humanity, a radically entertaining adventure, and full of opportunities to grow in ways other life story lines just wouldn’t support. Thanks for being in on this one with me. Let’s do this.”
I’m pretty sure at the end they all do that thing where you put your hands together, chant something inspirational and then yell BREAK and shoot down to earth so the adventure can begin.
It’s a fun fantasy. And beyond giving me a sense of agency, choice, and control it also makes me want to rise to the occasion, to greet difficult experiences with openness and to appreciate the opportunity. It makes me want to strive for the goals that would-be spirit me set out to achieve.
Anyway. I enjoyed pondering on this concept this morning. Would love to hear how this idea strikes you! And what you think spirit-you might’ve been thinking as they came up with your set of experiences and realities, what they wanted to learn. If you’re inspired to, please reach out to share your thoughts!
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