Unorthodox Angles/Andrew Gramling
Walking Between Two Worlds
The summer of 2021 has passed, and now fall has set firmly into place as the third and possibly most dynamic of the seasons with the various changes and transformations that take place. It’s impossible to deny now, with the lower temperatures and colored leaves that are beginning to…fall.
The busy activity of the summer is slowing down, and many people are beginning to spend less time outdoors enjoying recreational activities.
The sun has often been associated with warmth, joy, enthusiasm, and life, but now that its influence is starting to wane, what does that mean in people’s lives? For me personally, it has historically been a time when I begin to withdraw from the outer world.
My activities take a major shift from outer to inner. Without all that radiant vitality emanating from the sun, I feel the need to focus my attention elsewhere, since there isn’t as much out there to draw from. It’s been a time when I’ve had most of my inspired thoughts and hard-to-describe otherworldly experiences, like there’s suddenly something magical and mysterious in the air. I’ve also had to deal with greater sensations of depression and loneliness as I retreat further into myself, and begin to experience emotions that I hadn’t given much attention to, but I’m much better at dealing with that now after experiencing so many cycles. It’s that polarity between the inner and outer world, like two contrasting seasons, I would like to discuss today.
When we are children, all, or most of us, have a highly developed imagination. We can play with our toys and act out imaginary scenarios with the same fervor as we would have enjoying our favorite hobbies and activities as an adult. We don’t yet understand the rules of the world we live in because we haven’t been in it long enough.
Over time, structured living and external demands begin to shape our lives. Our parents tell us what we can and can’t do, our teachers tell us what we must learn, and our places of worship tell us what is right and wrong. Also, our friends tell us how to be “cool” so we can fit into their unique little social group.
Before we have time to think, we’re graduating from high school and entering into big society- Either joining the workforce, the military, or going to college, usually. That kid we once were, playing with toys and making sound effects while creating our own imaginative stories, is basically gone at this point; gone and sometimes forgotten. The idea of playing with toys sounds completely ridiculous as we get older, and we wouldn’t dare let anyone see us doing it because it’s not “normal.” And where did this concept of normal come from? I don’t think it came from within, but actually, society. I’m sure many people would agree.
For most of our lives, we walk around with thousands, if not millions of voices in our subconscious stemming from childhood experiences until the present that have told us how to live. They speak to us every day, directing our behavior, often times without us even knowing it or consciously thinking about it. Some of these voices are quite reasonable, like the voice that tells you to look both ways before crossing the street, or the voice that tells you it’s not safe to eat rotten food.
But what about the voices that are unreasonable? Not everyone we’ve ever met has had our greatest good on their agenda, to put it politely. Some of them harm our growth without any malicious intent, and others do so purposely. Some people fear that we may go somewhere in life that they don’t have the will or the vision to go themselves and try to keep us down where they are by various manipulative tactics. This can all be very damaging to our subconscious, which some figures estimate to account for as much as 95 percent of our overall behavior. That’s a lot of preprogrammed responses and time spent on autopilot!
With so many demands being placed on us from the outer world as we get older, or the willingness of ourselves to take on more responsibility, it can be difficult to find the time or even the need to work on that inner world which does house our subconscious. Balancing both ends has always been difficult, and not everyone wants to face that challenge. Sometimes people use various methods to escape one or the other. It’s usually difficult to escape both at the same time, because our consciousness has to be somewhere at all times, or it simply wouldn’t exist. One example is drugs. Some people use drugs as an escape from the outer world of responsibilities. They can go so deep within themselves sometimes that they become lost to anyone around them. Another example is work. What people define as the workaholic is often the person who uses work to keep from facing who they are and what they are feeling inside. Both examples represent an inability to face some aspect of reality.
So why is that inner work so important? It’s not necessarily going to earn me any money in this materialistic society we live in, so what use is it? Firstly, it just might. Professionals such as artists and musicians rely heavily on creativity to introduce new concepts to people that can inspire them. It’s possible to do those professions without much creativity, but what we have then are endless movie reboots and music artists trying to sound like each other while not saying much of anything.
Aside from the professional aspect, doing that inner work means being able to access faculties like the subconscious and being able to live more as a conscious being rather than a robot who has had society place its stamp of approval on its forehead. Just as there is a whole world around us, there is a whole world within us as well. I would argue that the world within us is infinitely bigger than the world around us.
What do I base this idea on? Because everything in the outer world can be measured, but not so of the inner world. How much do your feelings weigh? Five pounds? Or maybe a ton on a rough day? When was the last time you tried to measure something in a dream you had? Even if you remembered to bring your ruler with you, by the time you measured something, it might’ve already changed into something else. But again, why is this inner world so important? Because it’s not completely separate from the outer world. Things go in, and things come out of it.
There was one time when I was trying to think of the name of a video rental store that had gone out of business years ago, but I couldn’t remember the name of it. Then a couple nights later, I had a dream, and the name of the video store appeared right in front of me. It not only has the ability to tell us about something that has passed, but also something that is coming. Back in 1999, one year after I graduated high school, I had a dream about army recruitment. There were at least a dozen rows of new recruits at least 20 people long, and they were getting ready to participate in a major war of some kind, I sensed. Out of the hundreds of people in the rows, I only recognized one of them as a former high school classmate standing at the front of one of the lines. A few years passed, and so came the second Iraq War.
In 2003, I was at a bar with a friend, and that same classmate that appeared in my dream walked into the bar suddenly. It was impossible to miss him as he had a big presence, and he was shaking people’s hands. My friend who I was with told me he just got back from Iraq. I had no knowledge he joined the army, but in that dream I had, I very specifically noticed him among all the other recruits. I’m sure many other people out there can relate, but society has conditioned us not to talk about such things so freely. I do anyway.
The world we live in is full of forms that were once ideas. The world within us is somewhat formless, but can give birth to forms when the work necessary is done. Both worlds rely on each other, and to only pay attention to one of them leaves us seriously imbalanced. We can accumulate all the riches in the world, but at that point, what LIFE is there still within us?
There’s a quote from a pretty famous book out there that asks the question, “For what good shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” In my case, I don’t want to lose my soul. I want my soul to be inspired and on fire every single day. It’s not hard to survive in this world at present, but I’m not here just to survive. I’m here to thrive! The only way we become better at something is by doing it. To give a very concrete example, when we exercise our muscles, they get destroyed, and then grow back stronger. When we cease to exercise, those muscles become weak and shrink in size. Similarly, if we only keep lifting the same load the same number of times, there isn’t going to be any growth anymore, and our gains will begin to disappear, just as doing the same thing over and over again each day will eventually burn us out and won’t cause much growth. I’m not saying earning money is a bad thing. More money usually means we have more options, such as the option to go somewhere we feel called to, or to help someone in need. But if we only focus on what we can see with our eyes, we are missing out on quite a lot in life.
To sum everything up, as we get older, we often lose touch with our inner creative power that can cause massive transformation in our lives and the lives of people around us because we become so outwardly focused, and the world we live in has a tendency to dictate our behavior based on societal norms. I’m not here to tell you to start digging in your old toybox and start playing with G.I. Joes or Barbie Dolls, although if you wanted to, it’s certainly your right. What I’m saying is there are more than a few things within you that are worth digging for that you may have forgotten about.