Over the last essays we explored the symbol of Gates as moments of transmutation, we shed light on the price we’re asked to pay in order to cross the threshold and we understood that a non-negotiable requirement is to offer our identity.
But what do we really mean when we say that?
How do we tend to look at the “old version” we are meant to leave behind?
And how does that story condition our capacity to navigate that process?
Crossing a Gate is about turning into another version of ourselves, and I’m sure many of us have already heard or read the saying: “your new life will cost you your old one”.
That’s one way to look at the process of offering our identity.
But while I agree with the concept, I struggle with what this phrase suggests.
To me it represents the very linear and binary idea of change that characterises our modern culture: give-that-to-take-this, switch that off in order to turn this on.
But this is hardly the way nature, our psyche and ultimately life work.
“(Through teaching and practicing yoga) I realised that there was another way available for me, and I shifted that disciplined ‘I must destroy, I must slay my old self in order to become this new self’ into: collaborate with the one that you are becoming.
You old self and the one that you’re becoming are in collaboration with each other. One is the material. You have to break down and have some material to offer the universe as raw material to the one you are becoming. They need each other.”
Our modern culture is characterised by polarity and linearity, and when it comes to the concept of change-making it constantly suggests that there’s old and a new, a wrong and a right side and that you are meant to destroy, to slay “the old” in order to establish “the new” – be it a new version of yourself, a new way to think about business or a new approach to living on this planet.
But to destroy the old means to reject what is meant to be our prime material.
This, to me, is one of the most important topics to look at in the impact and sustainability sector.
Because this is the sector where we identify as those who “want change” or “make change”.
Where we literally call ourselves “change-makers” but where we can also find the majority of people and projects stuck with an idea of change that is linear, polarised, conflict-based and ultimately far from how change truly works. In other words, ineffective.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m an activist at heart.
I’ve been in activism for way longer than I’ve been an entrepreneur, so I’m profoundly familiar with the anger bursting in my veins in front of injustice, and with the feeling that there are things and people falling either on the “right side” or “wrong side” of a situation.
I also know by experience that this is how we frame things in innovation and entrepreneurship: teams talk about a “problem” and the “solution” that they, the change-makers, are ready to implement in order to “fix the problem”.
But I believe that as long as we think about change-makers, activists and entrepreneurs as the ones meant to look for the wrong, to destroy the old and obsolete and to establish a new and better order we will perpetuate a linear, conflict-based and ultimately toxic idea of how change happens.
And, most especially, we won’t be able to access our power to create healthier, more profound and ultimately better, lasting change.
The old version of ourselves is not meant to be slayed but churned and offered as raw material to the new one we are becoming.
Equally, the old structures and systems we built in order to operate on this planet are not meant to be ashamed and discarded, but broken down and turned into a fertilizer for what we want to create next.
We must call things by their true names, and signal what doesn’t resonate or represent us anymore, in order to approach each Gate knowing exactly what version of ourselves, or anything else, needs to be transformed.
But it’s also important to know that we are meant to move forward and offer our old versions from a place of gratitude, not of shame.
Because shame paralyses.
Shame prevents us from using what’s meant to be our prime material.
There’s so much to explore here. But as for today, I’d like to ask:
- Are you able to see “old version(s)” as your prime material?
- What’s in there that can be a fertiliser, offered to the one you are becoming?
- What is ready to be churned and turned into wisdom to better inform your way forward?
Just notice. Everything else will follow.