We all dread those times when life knocks on the door and informs us that everything we know will now be different. Life does not ask our permission nor does it give us a hint of what is to come. It acts as an angry child charged with cleaning up its room and simply turns everything upside down.
These fruitful times of "upside down" are often precipitated by a loss: the loss of health, a business or job, a partner or family member. The only requirement is that the loss be big enough to deliver us to our knees, to make us question our lives, and to exile us to a vast desert of uncertainty.
Depending on where you are in life at the time, a catalyzing circumstance could be your newest crush asking someone else to the prom, relocating only to find the job offer has been rescinded, or discovering that you have a brain tumor. In every part of your life, the situation will feel the same—out of control and beyond one's ability to decipher cause or remedy. So, when tragedy does come knocking, how do you right the ship and regain control of your life?
Recently, I spoke to Wolfgang Hermann, a mixed media artist from Crozet, VA, who shared his story of “upside down.” Calling these times transitions and their purpose renewal, he spoke to me of the muse that saved him and the process that delivered him back to productivity and joy.
For Wolfgang, the mitigating circumstance took the form of an accident in which he was left with a compression fracture of the spine. Prior to the accident, he was an avid motorcyclist, hiker, and explorer. His days as a self-employed father and husband, art teacher and artist on the cusp of his next breakthrough, had relaxed into predictability. And he had just completed his first mixed media series collectively called, The Recovery Series: Images of the Day.
As an artist, these paintings represented a departure from a long career using oil and palette, and he had been excited for the results of his newfound passion—to overlay watercolor with ink, charcoal, pencil, oil sticks, and colored markers. But, in the six months that followed the accident, the art that had once been his muse in life, no longer spoke to him. Physical therapy and a restructuring of his business demanded his attention. And as days turned into months with no measurable results, he descended into a vast canyon of confusion and despair.
Realizing that he needed to take control and dedicate himself to re-inventing his world, he set up a schedule and a place to creatively address his situation. Mornings were spent in the office tasked with the re-organization of his business. He moved his "studio" space out of the office and into a transformed shed in the side yard where each afternoon he reconnected with his muse. The goal became to explore inner and outer beauty versus self-judgment.
During his period of Renewal, Wolfgang began painting with his left hand, and he allowed color and form to present itself on the canvas rather than dictating form. And when the piece was finished, it was moved to a wall where he would sit and contemplate what had been revealed to him on the canvas. Wolfgang speaks of this period of his art as more impulsive, immediate and fresh with each painting moving quickly to form. What followed was a new way of working with both art and life—a new processed approach that required him to be still, listen, become aware of option and initiate change.
When tragedy does show up on your doorstep, there are two tools that can deliver you to a greater awareness for its purpose and the resolution of its circumstances: first, elevating your awareness to soul in journey and, second, having a practiced meditative visionary process through which you can calm the storm and invite a vision for your future that holds appeal.
Tragedy plays an important role in the life of the soul in that it allows the soul in journey to refresh the lifetime on earth so it can have new experiences without having to reincarnate. This allows the soul to piggyback three to four journeys into one lifetime on earth. When the gauntlet that tragedy throws down impacts multiple areas of your life simultaneously, it signifies a destined change point set in place prior to the soul’s incarnation. Its timing is relevant to the overall journey chosen by the soul prior to incarnation and is fixed in its timing. Each of the four journeys is anchored by a creative identity that shifts about 20% at each change point. So, these times of upside down are indicators that you are entering a new phase of creativity on earth and are being called by the soul that birthed you to change—to update your identity and create something new.
With the awareness of the soul in journey, you can forget feeling broken or wrong and get busy visioning for what is next. Wolfgang’s visionary muse was his art and the focus of his inquiry was inner and outer beauty. You too will benefit by having a practice that is muse-like, offering you time to be alone and focused and listening. Perhaps you are a musician, a writer, or a stamp collector. Maybe you open to creative insight better when you are hiking in the woods or listening to music or playing in the Zen garden. These all act as meditative practices that calm the body and mind and invite creative insight to pop. Meditation for a Practical World utilizes yoga, music, affirmations, and both seated and moving meditation. When the journey from tragedy to renewal knocks, it will ask you to create again, to rebirth your own life, and in that process to know the self as someone with new capabilities and goals. The second tool is to be prepared. Find a muse that brings you joy, encourages you to dream, and delivers insight. Make your life about options.
About Red Cameron
Red Cameron is founder of Meditation for a Practical World where she offers personal, group, and corporate meditation coaching. She has taught classes in the visionary arts for 6 years, authored “Journeys in the Life of the Soul," and practiced as a hypnotherapist for 10 years specializing in the pinpoint regression. www.RedCameron.com
About Artist Wolfgang Hermann
Wolfgang Hermann is a mixed media artist based in Crozet, VA and founder of Charlottesville Reflexology. He has taught art therapy and explored various healing modalities including Reflexology, Raindrop and Shiatsu massage, Holographic Repatterning, and Herbalism since the 70’s. His last two art series, Recovery and Renewal, are viewable on his web site, www.WolfgangHermann.net.