“Do you ever worry about all the suffering in the world?” the kind looking gentleman asked me after introducing his besuited grandson. These strangers stood at my door, the older man holding leaflets in his hand. “No” I replied with a smile.
“No? It doesn’t worry you?” he looked at me as if quite stunned. “No” I reaffirm, “If I worry about all the suffering, I just add more energy to it; I can’t help those suffering if I join that club of worriers.”
The man looked at me, “yes I suppose that is true” he said, thrusting the leaflet in my hand. “Take this anyway” he smiled and quickly ushered away his grandson who stood a few steps behind him.
“Really?” I thought “is that their angle to start a discussion about finding God?”
I’ve always been one to call a spade a spade, call out the elephant in the room, but let’s not wallow in it. Call it out to dispel the fear.
This week I was offered the chance to pick up the Cloud Cuckoo Palace Lego set. While the Lego Movie isn’t one my young kids are even aware of, I indulged anyway.
A few years back, one of the more significant (and fun) pieces of work I ever spent time on in the corporate arena leveraged that very movie. I could call it ‘the transformation that almost was’ as it didn’t get it’s time in the sun due to – ironically – micromanagement, ego and fear.
We were working on an inward culture change in order to significantly lift the morale and the customer experience, with the added benefit of efficiency. I was working with the guy who looked after about a third of all the company’s staff, mainly call centre based, he was a visionary and he too was happy to call out the elephant in the room.
Emmet’s journey in the Lego Movie was such a parody of life in that part of the company, I was inspired to use clips from it edited into a video interview I did with the leader. Given the demographic of the staff and the company’s brand culture, I knew it would have great cut through. Using humour to say “we know this is what it’s like and we recognise there’s more in you and we want to make things better” was the right thing to do.
While there were significant parts of the programme of transformation that did happen, like leadership assessment and development, momentum popped like a balloon as large amounts of the follow up work never got off the ground and others were swept under the carpet, the leader ‘left’ and much of the work now sits in the Philippines.
So I chose Cloud Cuckoo Land, it’s much nicer. Though there is one difference, there is no “stuffing down of negative feelings” in my world, that leads to some nasty side effects.
Earlier this week I was listening to some authors talking about a programme they’ve developed called “Shadow Work”. While I don’t think their video was a great introduction, a bit too much wallowing in the suffering seemed to be going on, I like the expression.
Shadows are only cast in light, yet many live among them constantly. They accept the shadows as their truth, fearing that if they walk out into the sun they will be burnt. Fear is created in the minds of people and, just like in the Lego Movie, perpetuated in society, systems and government. It is perhaps a mix of well and ill intention but, regardless, fear is not welcome in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
We should never be scared of the shadows, without fear they serve more to sharpen our focus on the type of person we wish to be and the type of world we want to live in.
This year I have watched as someone close to me has been faced with their own shadow. A shadow common in our society, cancer. It is interesting that our bodies produce cancer cells all the time, yet in some people they can lead to such suffering at specific points in life.
Years of stuffing down emotions, perhaps putting the needs of others before their own, living in fear rather than in love for ourselves, manifests as these devastating diseases. The body’s last attempt to wake us up, to relieve itself of the burdens it unnecessarily carries.
For me, this translates to a different kind of shadow. In the last few years I’ve become better and more attuned to reading the energy that surrounds us. When people are looking for answers, they evoke their own solutions but often they hold themselves from those answers as they sit in fear in the shadows.
When someone asks “Why me? I didn’t ask for this” I hear an answer. Often it’s not a question they have asked outright, more of an anguished cry within. So being in possession of an answer that someone hasn’t directly asked me can be weird, and I will usually share what I hear but tell them just to take what resonates.
I want to help, to sooth, but when someone you love doesn’t want to hear, well, that is a shadow right there. Accepting another’s right to choose is fundamental in my book, yet the desire for me to help, to sooth, remains.
I do not feel good in that shadow, but I see that it is there and it teaches me about my own choices. I do not stay in that shadow for long, I thrive in Cloud Cuckoo land and I know it’s from there the right inspiration will come to me to help ease suffering where I can.
Yes there are some stinking situations in this world, yet you can still choose to live in one that focuses on magnifying the many wonderful aspects within and around us and focusing on creating more of that and wondering what can be.
That world, the one that some call Cloud Cuckoo Land, is where many of our most inspired contributors have come from, from inventors to composers, artists to the various spiritual teachers upon whom world religions have become founded, and even business people and doctors and scientists.
Given the choice is mostly in our own hearts and head, Cloud Cuckoo Land is the one I choose to live in anytime.
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