A green and white metal tube made itself known. It is the kind that neatly folds and pushes the contents forward.
The contents of this tube? A strong odorous ointment which packed a big eucalyptus punch.
When the tube of Bengay made its way from the medicine cabinet into my mother’s hands, along with an Ace bandage, surprisingly it was not for her arthritis.
Instead, this visual became a life message for me at six years old.
This superhero duo of ointment and bandage were a comforting assurance that my child limbs would be taken care of as they endured physical ‘growing pains’ long before the stress put upon knees and joints throughout my own childhood and adult life standing for hours and hours.
My mother told me, “Growing hurts, but everyone has to grow.”
If the Universe had a message to deliver directly to my kid knees and joints, it would say that it could not guarantee that I’d ever grow the way that I thought I would in the first grade, but it would guarantee that I would grow nonetheless.
Oh, and growing would never stop... even if growing in my limbs did stop.
That was an important nugget… (and relevant to the topic of this blog) because we humans never ‘know’ how things will twist, turn, and change along our path, but regardless, we are guaranteed some things we do not expect no matter how well we think we plan.
For the six year-old version of me however, the Universe would guarantee that a #2 penciled line on the wall would appear and continue to rise upward at least for a few years to indicate progress and growth of maybe a half-inch at a time, if I was lucky. Though it was growth… a step at a time.
The catch though was that in order for the number two pencil to make its appearance to mark a line of my growth on my parents’ kitchen wall, the Bengay had to make its way forward first up through that metal tube, which was getting tougher to push upward the more the bottom of the tube tried to fight to stay where it was holding.
In other words, there was an ‘order’ of sorts for growth on this journey…
Dare I say, it is a divine order, amid fighting with the tube, and ultimately compromise would bring resolution to the situation.
It has been a growing pains themed 2020 year for the entire world in unthinkable magnitudes, as if we were being put through some crazy, traumatic extreme test of life, death and loss of all proportions.
Our NEW REALITY AND REAL WORLD, which looks nothing like the ol’ MTV version has changed everyone’s life from what they once knew into a world where we question our own progress, growth and even where the growing pains will lead.
Though for all of us collectively, it is not just a knee, or a foot – it’s a whole body growth… mentally/psychologically, emotionally, physically, chemically, spiritually, personally and professionally for every human in how we live life.
Whew. Yeah… we’ve been through a lot, people.
Some changes have been more challenging than others.
But this blog is not here to list and rehash all of that – as the many news outlets will be sure to do a 2020 recap and yes, even probably ABC’s 20/20 will recap of what we experienced, which will still seem like a present tense narrative, as we’ll still be going through the growing issues of this year.
Similar to the Bengay metal tube, humanity is struggling to deal with the fact the metal tube is rolling up on its own at times, with crinkles. Just as humans digest one bit of news, more arrives, and the tube is now swiftly changing shape, frustrating for many OCD folks who wish to iron out the crinkles of the metal tube just as much as all of real life.
I have many friends who have specifically decided to turn off the news altogether, and get off social media because the storm just “takes up way too much energy,” chipping away at emotions, thoughts and yes, at times, hope for our world, depending on the escalating numbers in lives lost, and pieces of our nostalgic pasts, and the day’s offerings.
In other words, everyday news, rips off the Band-Aid as we’re trying to heal ourselves and sadly daily events are pouring rubbing alcohol in the wound when we barely have time to catch our breath.
But I am here to say – this is the whole point.
Band-Aids, temporary quick fixes, duct tape and even a huge supply of Bengay and Ace bandages cannot repair what humanity has been through in 2020.
We are meant to heal from the ground up.
We are being called to bring forth real solutions.
And yes, we are being asked to step into our new reality accepting that change is actually designing a new way for us to examine life, how we had been living it, how we wish to be rebooting it to live better. Here we are not only being asked to bring about social, economic, political, environmental, equitable and tangible change at the same time we address what’s really going on from the human space – but from the humanity space return to compassion, love, healing, equality, non-judgmental change in a way that humans were too busy to address before.
No matter how much we humans want to unravel the roll of our own personal tube of Bengay to iron it flat against the counter, by doing so – we’re punching holes in the tube.
It is here where the sharp corners protrude like a cutting-edge with bits of the oozy ointment seeping out of the punctured metal, like somehow continued insult to trying-to-heal the injury so-to-speak.
And yes, I will say it - that is also the point! We are meant to cut our fingers on this metal tube trying to manipulate it, when half of it rolled up on its own the way that it did - but what we are meant to truly see is that if we did things consciously and correctly in the first place, we wouldn't be here now.
Trying to roll it back up the same is now challenging will and determination vs. releasing to be what is and what is to come.
Instead of going BACKWARDS to unroll the tube, we must acknowledge the lack of initial mindfulness of not minding the tube to roll it up correctly and now begin moving FORWARD and not rushing aimlessly, rather being very careful in how we roll the tube properly, safely and efficiently to show we are presently connected to our current mind awareness to do things right.
Recognizing our own humanness in course-correcting, this is where we start.
We indeed will 'as a collective' become frustrated, as humans "being human" defaulting to ego-only will try and keep squeezing that metal tube to the point of risking cutting one’s finger on the metal before surrendering to the idea that sometimes we have to go through the pain with no more Bengay.
You see, the lesson is to not try to go back to the tube itself, but rather walk through the fire of the experience sans remedy to gain peace of mind for the ultimate closure on things we’re saying goodbye to that we have no control over. Then we take a step back to see what we can change proactively in the moment, and that can begin with our thoughts, feelings and removing judgment.
Judgment ultimately is seeing what we see as one thing (like the bent-up metal tube with holes and crinkles) – and then realize what we cannot discount ---that the tube actually represents real growing has actually occurred.
Let’s sit with that for just a minute if you think about earlier this year and what we have learned.
While our world looks like one hot mess after another because everyone is flying by the seat of their pants trying to figure out the future, we need to remember this:
IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT THE PAST, you’ll be depressed and if you LOOK TOO FAR AHEAD you’ll feel way too much anxiety with a crystal ball that won’t tell you much at all other than your own personal perception of what you ‘think’ may happen to our world’s future on the planet.
Staying right in the present, as cliché and tired as we all feel, is the only way to try to deal with the world spinning and trying not to get dizzy with ‘what will happen’ next.
Yes, this sucks for the control freak in everyone, the planner, the strategizing analyst, and yeah, the majority of people who just want their old life back.
We must focus on that and not forget that we have grown through this process even if we cannot measure it with that #2 pencil. No matter how small or how slow the tangible progress appears – and we have had many messy adjustments along the way, let’s still remember that growth has happened.
Where does growth lead? That still remains to be seen in how each of us individually perceive said growth and change and what we DO WITH IT.
- How can we do our best with it?
- How will we apply what we learned?
- Are we able to step outside of ourselves to see another through their eyes and not the eyes that we have in how we see them?
- Can we remove all pre-conditioning, reactions and labels on something we do not truly understand?
While life may not presently look like how we imagined it, we also have to remember that we “as a collective consciousness” all at some point prayed for the world to change.
Don’t deny it… you know you did this at one point or several and may have even cursed John Mayer’s song “Waiting on the World to Change” – because everyone was far too impatient to wait and everyone wanted to take action…. But today we find ourselves taking action and yes, still waiting for actual change to occur in the way we envisioned it and on our timeline.
However, that is THE POINT. Remember, we’ve risen to the ‘next’ level’ and we are indeed on an alternate timeline as we’re being asked to ascend and rise to meet the present-day challenges we’re actually being presented with in real time.
Think about this for a minute– perhaps we were not specific enough in how we wanted to see that happen, but the Universe delivered and answered just that – change.... a la whooshes and kabams comic book enthusiasts will relate to – but did not see that the superheroes would be all essential workers and first-responders all wearing masks but not capes.
While this may have burst the Comic Con initial fantasy, reality is we really needed the heroes that showed up, eh?
This is no different than how the Universe delivered ‘growth’ to my kid legs.
No, I did not grow to be a giant and did not see the growth all at once to ever at any time be the tallest kid and I am still vertically challenged, but I did grow and as an adult on the other side of this, I see that in context, the parallel relevancy of ‘growth’ initially requested actually has been delivered in an entirely different context.
To my six year-old self, growth happened to my childhood limbs.
To my adult self today and probably to your adult self, the original request to ‘grow’ continues to keep on growing no different than a gift that keeps on giving in lessons that everyday life delivers.
Every stage of life, we can see the layers of the initial request unfolding, delivered beyond the context of the original asking.
With an altered paradigm, what seems like an alternate timeline in some movie – we humans are living in this new existence dancing somewhere in time between nostalgia and a past that seems like an old social dream and trying to figure out a future of uncertainty, that while interesting to navigate does have some limitations for things we’re still needing to address.
The world right now is going to need much more than a whole heck of a lot of Bengay and enough Ace bandages to wrap around planet earth several times.
At a time when solution-seeking innovation and progression is happening, we cannot ignore that millions of people’s lives have changed.
The obvious changes are tough enough. But it is the invisible changes that no one is talking about.
The world is going through some huge growing pains in a metamorphosis we have not encountered before in this magnitude given the current climate of what we are facing.
We cannot rush the world’s growth no matter how swiftly people desire to find a vaccine, a cure, try to get things to some assembly of normalcy or a return to ‘perceived security.’
Humanity is desperately searching for their virtual Bengay and Ace bandage to get us out of this year, but the difference between the collective childhoods around the world that may mirror mine – there is something we must remember… change for the world is not an overnight thing, it is much like our human inner work, a continuous on-going work in progress, even if our physical bodies eventually stop growing and no more lines appear on the wall marked by a #2 pencil.
This year we changed the way we work, shop, eat, clean, vote and interact simultaneously pivoting to find justice, right wrongs, stand up, speak out and create.
But just like the baby step of companies taking responsibility to change food packaging which has been racially insensitive won’t actually erase racism from existence, it is on its own a work in progress.
While we cannot expect any election, a vaccine, two or three versions of it to take away the pain we have endured this year with death, violence, illness, ugly truths surfacing, and Mother Nature’s storms of fire, rain, wind and earth quaking… we know that what will come from all of this is a closer look at what that number two pencil is marking on the wall monitoring our growth and progress.
This is the external stuff the world is going through right now.
Internally, humans are going through their own thing in facing mortality, examining life and what matters, changing/shifting/morphing into new ways of being, addressing feelings swept under rugs and yes, taking a closer look at what that value system is all about.
As I watch my neighbors nonchalantly sachet around without a face mask and many people ignoring social distancing or the markings on the floor as to which direction to navigate a store’s aisle traffic flow (making me wonder if they are the ones who also ignore stop signs), I am examining the growing pains that are or are not occurring amid this huge worldly wake-up call.
If humans continue to remain selfish, stomp their feet in tantrum-like way of wanting things how they want it the old way and act out rebelliously, we will have learned NOTHING from this year.
This is disheartening to see, but we must not lower our expectations… in fact we must do the opposite.
If you are hearing nightly sirens, remember that no one is invincible. It is here we must find daily gratitude for being here even among the irresponsible ones, and with said gratitude, realize what we can do.
Humanity was shaken up to bring about present-moment consciousness, reinvigorate gratitude for every minute, moment and day of life and to have respect for others.
It’s not easy, but if we are still grateful for every day that we are here, doing what we can to navigate this reality is what we’re being forced to look at and step up into the challenge and not give up hope that change may be fast some days, slow on others and may appear to not occur at all with others, situations and things… but it is occurring whether or not we can see it.
Just remember, even if we cannot measure progress on the wall, it is those growing pains we collectively feel that remind us we are human, we are growing and we’re going to have to adapt to being comfortable with being uncomfortable until we go through what we need to grow through.