Okay, now that I have your attention I'll get right to it. What could these diverse celebrities possibly share at the moment other than the media spotlight? Plenty, when we look below the surface glitz and shiny bright lights of media coverage.
They are all experiencing very public, highly publicized shifts. Like so many of us, they are quickly and powerfully changing. Bigger still, the fact that their shifts are promoted and known to the point of global awareness is no accident. These players are in the international spotlight -- some consciously, others a little less -- to bring laser focus to a critical realization we all need to have as we shift into being our authentic selves.
Sure enough, they're not all shifting in the same direction nor with conscious intention, but their shifts have one major characteristic in common. It's a characteristic we all share, in fact, it's a defining characteristic of who we are. That characteristic is what I call duality and define as our two-sided nature, our yin and yang, feminine and masculine, analytical and creative sides, our infinite ability to be "both/and" rather than remain limited by "either/or."
Truth be told, we are not merely dual in nature (even that's too limiting), for we are total, we are infinite. Yet it is when the twin sides of our natures clash in blatant juxtaposition that we are revealed to be the paradoxical creates we truly are.
And there's the rub: Paradox is a challenge for most of us. We love order, control and clarity. We despise paradoxes. The mind can't resolve it, the ego is frustrated by it. Luckily (as the Tao Te Ching reminds us) the heart celebrates it. So I invite you to move into your heart as you keep reading and celebrate these paradoxes with me.
Allow me to illustrate with some stories, for they are both highly educational and amusing.
Will and Kate: A Shifting Fairytale
He, the heir apparent to the British throne. She, a lovely commoner with more than her fair share of whit, brains and charm. Together, all eyes were upon them as they broke nearly 400 years of British tradition by tying the knot on April 29, 2011.
Oh, how we strive to label and predict their futures. Oh, how we long to "tie them up in a neat little package," presuming their royal life of perfection living happily ever after in a London palace. Oh, how they have changed the game on us.
After some reflection, I realized that what fueled my royal wedding fervor was my fascination with Will and Kate as non-conformists and my love for how they refused to be "either/or" and instead have boldly blazed a trail to embrace "both/and." Will they live as royalty or commoners? They refuse to choose one, and instead will do both. Yes, it's a Cinderella story for a new era. No rags to riches saga here, instead it's nearly the opposite. They were engaged and living together. They are wealthy, but living without servants. They are royals, yet they live as normal a life as possible in a small village in Wales. They are both beautiful, powerful, influential and they are humble. They will both lead and serve.
In the human history of monarchies around the world and how we think about royalty, they're a paradox. In the course of human evolution, a beacon. Perhaps the Bishop of London said it best when he delivered their wedding sermon:
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centeredness... You have both made your decision today and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
I hope with all my heart that Will and Kate will live up to that promise and continue to model it for the world for generations to come.
The Schwarzenegger Scandal: Let There Be Light
What would pop culture be without a celebrity scandal of the month, week or day? However, on the Richter scale of celebrity scandals, the Arnold Schwarzenegger child-out-of-wedlock (and lord only knows what else) infamy is pretty close to a 10.
Rather than dwell on the drama, let's look at what's really playing out. Energetically what's "going on" is the that truth of who Arnold is -- all of who he is -- is simply coming to light. In ages past, many men in similar situations were able to mask their indiscretions until or even beyond their death. Today's rate of accelerated change and ready-to-read media makes that impossible (I'm having a déjà vu about Tiger Woods.)
Just as for Arnold, our darkest secrets, buried emotions and skeletons lurking in the closet crave the light. We can consciously make space for these ignominies and chose to allow them to exist, heal or honor them (whichever is called for), or we can unconsciously resist them (but considering that what you resist persists, I don't recommend the latter.) In fact, the longer we try to hide our secret wounds and failures, the more likely they are to force themselves into the light, with or without our approval... ouch.
And we can thank Arnold, yes thank him for teaching us an invaluable lesson: to stop closing our eyes to the totality of who we each are and instead, to see one another, really see each other for all of who we are rather than only look at the safe, funny, attractive parts. Arnold Schwarzenegger is both movie star and politician. He is both husband and adulterer. He is both testosterone-filled horn-dog and loving father. Paradoxical? Perhaps, but only because we've been bucketing people into tidy little categories for so long. All of this just because we want our heroes to be perfect and feign shock and dismay when they're not. Arnold is a potent reminder that we're all human, and as humans, we remain paradoxical.
Oprah: Mississippi Miracle
Talk about a story! Watching her final episode, I was struck by what a spiritual, conscious message she intentionally conveyed, and could not imagine a more fitting end to her quarter-century network television juggernaut. There's another thing Oprah conveyed repeatedly in that episode: She remarked upon what a miracle her life has been.
Miracle, paradox and much much more, all rolled into what has taken 25 years, countless companies and lots of hard work to become Oprah Winfrey. Like Will and Kate, Oprah has refused to accept "either/or" classifications and embraces the "both/and", encouraging each of us to do the same in our own lives. Is her life and what she has become a miracle? Considering the times she was born into and raised in, and considering her circumstances, yes, but no more than each of us is also a miracle, although we may not have as dramatic a backdrop as Oprah to so clearly see it.
A New Mindset for an Era of Higher Consciousness
The lesson each of these celebrities has exemplified is not "having it all" or going for your dreams. Yes, they did those things too and there is value in learning from them, but that's another story. The lesson most applicable today, as we experience an evolution in consciousness, is that we are called to change our mindset. We are called to evolve how we think of ourselves and others. We are swept, cajoled, and sometimes even forced out of the "either/or" and into the "both/and" of embracing and integrating all parts of ourselves, accepting and allowing all aspects of others. Only this way of thinking gets to the truth of who we are and allows us to support the truth in others.
One of my favorite bloggers, Alexis Neely, recently shared this on her blog. It's as fitting a summary as I could fashion myself; I echo her sentiments and invite you to answer her question in comments below:
"One of the things I am learning is how to truly live the both/and of who I am. I am finding the middle way of embracing all that I am and all that I am evolving to be -- Alexis Neely, the strong lawyer, the powerhouse entrepreneur and Ali Shanti, the free spirit -- all of me.
What would it look like to embrace all of you in the best, most delicious mash-up of all times? What part of you are you currently leaving behind in your current reality and would love to integrate, if only you could?"
Alexis, Will, Kate, Arnold and Oprah aren't the only ones leaving behind an old reality that didn't reflect who they really are; we're all moving into an integrated living expression of our authentic selves. Personally, for today I am both marketing entrepreneur and yoga teacher, spiritual writer and Zumba instructor, corporate trainer and helpful wife and mother, leader of group meditations and frustrated in heavy traffic (but oh, how the meditating helps!) It's messy, a little crazy, but its fluid, and it fits. Will it change? Probably. I expect some things to fall away, others to expand. Throughout I will go with the current and not against it. Through the shifting I've experienced so far, the one thing I've learned that is absolutely priceless is this: When I finally gave light to the things I was suppressing, the passions I thought I didn't have time for, the hobbies and loves and interests I was closeting away, well, then and only then did the whole of who I am really begin to blossom.
Whether your blossoming is painful or graceful, I wish for all of you the same (and know all will receive it); that the light of consciousness shine into every shadowy nook, cranny and crevice of your life. Because then, when you are fully illuminated as "both/and" instead of only partially visible as "either/or", you'll be able to pass it on.