We just got back from a vacation in Greece, which was an absolute treat for the mind and senses. Along with the food, culture and the characteristic warmth of the Greek people, we absorbed the stories of history mingled with mythology, the wars and invasions that shaped the country and the rest of the world. The trip was a lesson in radical beauty.
Wandering through the ruins of the Bronze Age, it was easy to relive the legend of the Minotaur, the pet monster of the Minoan king of Crete a few hundred years before Christ. We admired the temple of Zeus, the Acropolis, the magnificent altar of Poseidon by the sea and of course, the hallowed Parthenon dedicated to the beautiful goddess Athena. The dignified structures speak silently of the turbulent and peaceful eras they have witnessed and withstood. If you are quiet enough, you can sense the presence of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Alexander the Great and others who changed the world as we know it.
Every archaeological site is shrouded in mystery. It turns out that as the scientists dig deeper at a given site, relics belonging to other ages reveal themselves, hidden under countless layers of debris. A 19th century church may hide the remnants of a mosque built two centuries earlier. If you keep digging, you might find a temple dedicated to an Olympian God constructed hundreds of years before the mosque. Keep excavating and you might find an altar meant for sacrifices to the mother goddess of the Bronze Age. I found this to be a delightful metaphor for the process of healing, particularly apt for this time of the year of resolutions and goals.
Most New Year’s resolutions are promptly forgotten by the end of January. Have you wondered why this is? To use the archaeology metaphor, resolutions can be a bit like trying to move debris obscuring the great treasure within. We instinctively know that the treasure exists, but mistakenly think that the way to get to it is by rearranging the debris. This invisible debris is made up of the judgments, thoughts and beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world around us. We try hard to change our lives and our attitudes, not knowing that they are held captive by the underlying beliefs and stories we tell ourselves. For example, if my deeply buried story is that I am unlovable, I continually strive for approval. I keep rearranging debris without getting close to the treasure I seek. Rearranging does not lead to lasting joy and creates a cycle of never-ending seeking. This is why resolutions don’t work!
For transformation that catapults us into love and joy, we will need to excavate through the debris and zero in on the gold. We will need to wade through the layers of concepts that cunningly hide it. We will have to explore our dark shadows to realize that they are cast by our own light. When we finally understand the falsity of limiting beliefs, they release us from their deadly grip.
Remember the great Wizard of Oz? He was just an ordinary man with a microphone! Our limitations (debris in this metaphor) arise from slavery to the nonexistent wizard with the loud voice. If we expose the wizard, the limitations will crumble into dust. Our lives will begin to change without the need for resolutions and goals. This is the way to radical beauty.
Are you ready for a new kind of resolution this year? What would you give for this kind of transformation?
Here is the invitation to join in for this journey. Maybe you will discover the radiant Athena within yourself!