Tora Estep and Shannon Brown

Tora Estep
“Resisting Expansion”
Collage and acrylic on watercolor paper

Re: Things Governing the Size of My Universe
By Shannon Brown
Inspiration piece

The lenses that I look through, that tell me what is possible and govern the extent of things that I’m able to do, come in two types, the physically possible filter and the emotionally possible filter.

The physically possible has to do with physical laws, the conventions that those of us who set up the rules of the planet agreed on. We agree that one can’t be in more than one place at a time, that time itself is perceived as moving in the same direction for everyone on the playing field, and so on. These rules apply to everyone who buys a ticket and steps onto the tilting, whirling planet. If it transgresses the laws of physics, you can’t do it. Pretty basic.

The second set of lenses is concerned with, within the grand scheme of physical potential, what I am emotionally capable of doing. If an action demands that I create conflict, or that I do something that might possibly make me a “bad person,” in the unfortunately broad and looming definition enshrined in my overgrown ethics center, the antilock brakes on the possibilities are activated faster than I can blink. That action then falls squarely into the realm of the utterly impossible. (Sometimes it’s so abrupt I could swear I feel the airbags deploying.)

You’d expect that the first one, the limits of physical reality, would be the filter that most resisted expansion, but oddly, this is not the case. It’s the stuff you can physically accomplish in the world that has been expanding in fits and starts ever since I wandered into a meditation class in 1985. I have seen and done things that I never could have imagined, and this is one of my greatest sources of joy. It is the second set of limits that make up the more daunting obstacle.

The irony is not lost on me that the emotional filters on the possible really ought to be the ones crumbling in the face of years of meditation and therapy. The only untried strategy I know of to overcome them is, rather than fueling them with my resistance, is to love them unconditionally. To treat them with gratitude and say, thank you, lenses, for the times that you saved me. It’s such a crazy idea… that it just might work.

I’ll let you know.


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