Have you spent your life avoiding disorientation? Are you fearful that something might come along and take away the familiar? Do you want more out of your life? Then maybe this is just what we need.
In Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles: Volume 1 he talks about the moment early on in his career when he realized:
“…[T]hat I would have to start believing in possibilities that I wouldn’t have allowed before, that I had been closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale…that things had become too familiar and I might have to disorientate myself.” (Italics mine.)
If you are like me (and most likely everyone else), you have probably sought ways to avoid disorientation because…well because it feels disorientating. I know few adults who enjoy that sensation of losing their horizon and many who actively seek ways to guard against the possibility of chaos. (We send our kids to school so that they can learn to be afraid of this.)
When Dylan says “closing my creativity down to a very narrow, controllable scale” he articulates something with which many of us can probably identify. We try to control all the factors in our lives, holding onto only those things which we think we master and surrounding ourselves with the “familiar.” Why?
So that we can feel safe.
The truth is that this yearning for safety can keep us small. The clinging to what we know is a way of reducing the opportunities for growth and change. Sometimes, however, we can be thrust into that chaos, like Dylan was in the early days of his career or like Dante was in his story La Divina Comedia.
(Um, I think I took a wrong turn at Alburquerque)
“In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself lost in a dark wood.” (My translation)
It is in this “dark wood” that Dante feels fear and uncertainty and it is also from here that he begins his journey to his love, Beatrice. It is from the disorientation that we find our way to our larger selves.
Anne Bogart, the famous theater director and creator of the Viewpoints style of acting says in her book A Director Prepares that “Every great journey begins with disorientation. … We all, audience and artists alike, have to allow for a little personal disorientation to pave the way for experience.” (pg 70)
If we are interested in growth and in leaning into a larger part of ourselves, we will need to welcome a modicum of chaos and uncertainty, for it is from this place that we may discover just how large we can become.