The Turning Point Within
Have you ever been in a situation faced with an important challenge that felt insurmountable by your usual methods of coping and problem-solving? Into every life flows crisis. Every breath rides on the brink of upheaval. Every human beat of a heart holds within it a turning point, a crossroads. A time, when the “old way” or the “comfortable way” or even maybe the “only way” we know, is threatened. Threatened and challenged and possibly found to be unusable. What once was our key to our future has become a useless artifact of a past once perfectly fitted.
The Many Forms of Crisis
They can take so many forms: You catch your husband cheating on you! Maybe you have a week to live! Or you got fired! Or you ran out of money! What you thought was true is not. What you thought was not, is. These are cataclysmic crisis situations. At these crossroads, we must make a choice. Continue to use old ways and methods that are no longer working? Or, I shudder to speak it, change…our…ways. Ouch, no thanks. Most times I would rather blame outside forces who are conspiring against me than admit that I myself may need a course correction. The audacity of such a thought! Hubris will get you every damn time. To think that I myself may hold a key that is now rusted and no longer works? Despite my best attempts, it just won’t turn! These are sacred, life-altering times, these so-called incipient moments of crisis.
Wei and Ji
This week, we will crack open our moments of crisis. We will try to train ourselves to view these moments of collapse as opportunities to find new and encouraging paths we never saw before. We will use crisis to reveal new vistas and possibilities that never existed before. Most all know about the Chinese word for crisis and how some people say it means “danger” plus “opportunity”. Some disagree with this translation but I believe they are splitting hairs. Here are my 2 cents. Wei means “danger”. Ji means “a point of juncture”.
危 – wei
机 – ji
Danger is easy to grasp. It means something that is potentially harmful, risky, or not preferred. Danger is mysterious and requires your full undivided attention if you wish to go unscathed. A juncture is where two things join. The joining of things generally seems to be risky business. So much can go wrong…or go right. Any union can be challenging and fraught with difficulties. Try unifying anything and observe what happens. A juncture is a place where two different things come together. A seam. A moment of conception or connection. When two become one and that one is, at the same time, a product of what came before. Yet, at the same time, it is new and altogether itself!
A New Way of Thinking
What two things are coming together in the Chinese idea of crisis? That’s right, you and your new way of dealing with your life! You and a new way of thinking. A revised method of living. You loving your life again and in new ways never fathomed before. This is a crisis on a monumental level. Your old ways have admittedly failed. But not all of you has failed. Just certain ideas and behaviors have betrayed our true futures. Luckily, we can learn and apply new methods. It will be dangerous and difficult. However, if we “refuse to let a good crisis go to waste” as Winston Churchill quipped once, we will reap the inevitable boons. We may even learn, like an ancient master, to (dare I say?) welcome crisis. Welcoming crisis? Audacity! Yes. Believe this. Points of juncture are inherently dangerous. They are also inherently rewarding.
New Possibilities and New Terrains
Crisis is a blessing. It opens your mind up to new understandings and informs our body and soul about new possibilities and new terrains to explore. This week, let’s focus on ways of identifying crisis and ways to surmount crisis. What can we learn? Are we perpetuating maladaptive patterns? If so, what are they? What alternative patterns can we put forth and offer? How can we support someone who is in crisis? How can we contain personal crisis long enough for someone to feel safe enough to join in the fight toward a new understanding? What are other models of dealing with crisis?