A red stone statuary in a snow covered yard

This quote from Barbara de Angelis describes the gap between our ordinary way of experiencing and identifying ourselves, and a new or emerging sense of self – a being we are becoming but may not yet clearly recognize or know.

I love this quote because it reminds me that there is a me that I have yet to become – it spotlights the notion that there are parts of me that will someday unfurl themselves like new spring leaves whose shape I cannot yet see.  That inspires me and holds a promise of possibility and transformation that helps me weather difficult periods and stressful situations. It helps me squarely face problems that have no good solutions — like aging, illness, uncertainty, loss and mortality because I can believe, that there is more of me (and you) than I can see at any one moment in time or from any one perspective. Knowing there are possibilities beyond what I can know right now, opens me to the unknown and gives me hope.

More than meets the eye…

The new year is a time when I am prone to reflecting and dreaming. I find it helps to remember that there is more to me and others than I can see or that has been shown.  There is always something new coming up on the horizon of becoming. I go to bed each night and get up most mornings without having to consider that I am ever-unfolding, a constantly changing being becoming something new each day. Yet that is what is happening. 

We are all a part of this amazing and inexplicable sea of change. Some change is slow and gradual. It happens over time, in such a subtle way that we barely notice it. It slips into us or out of us before we even know it. But some change is fast, sudden or comes out of the blue. This change can feel shocking, exciting or scary. 


Have you ever surprised yourself? Maybe you said something unexpectedly brave or true or wise, or you did something — courageous or selfless, bold or deep — that you had never imagined doing or being able to do. Sometimes, these moments bring self-consciousness, embarrassment or self-criticism.  Yet, those are moments when a new part of you is emerging (without your bidding) and coming out in a flash. Can you appreciate that flash? Can you imagine what important quality or characteristic might be showing itself, even if only for a moment?

The Dance of Life

Yet, if you read it carefully, I think de Angelis’ quote is pointing to something even more subtle — the actual space between who you experience yourself to be and a new expression of yourself that appears, often without warning. That moment, that sliver of time and space, that instant between the old you and something suddenly new in you – that is where she says the dance of life takes place.

I can imagine this liminal space between but can I actually perceive this dance of life, notice it or be present to it? I think so, but not in any ordinary sense of perceiving.  Maybe, I think, because this space is a unique altered state of consciousness that impacts me — but I have little training to be alert to or notice it.  (For more about how to notice non-ordinary states, I recommend Arnold Mindell’s Dreaming While Awake.)

So, Why Bother?

I believe that embracing the possibility of this space and contemplating it, remembering that my own unfolding process is occurring now and now and now… gets me closer to appreciating, trusting and integrating a sense of this mysterious dance. Doing so, helps me remember that I am also a mysterious process becoming something new – sometimes slowly and sometimes suddenly.

So, as I begin a new year, (and even as its newness starts to fade,) I remind myself of the mystery that lies within me and everyone I encounter. I don’t take it for granted but hold it tenderly in my heart and mind from time to time and feel gratitude, hope and wonder to be held by this dance of life.

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