There is a force happening in my life right now, a momentous of growth and opening that feels like the conclusion to a decade of events and experiences. This is one of those times that feels like more than just a seasonal change or an abrupt end that led to an unexpected yet fresh rebirth. Those are the cycles of our lives that occur frequently, perhaps yearly, the changes that thrust us forward through each stage of our life. This is something more than that. This is something that began with forces that move slow but are powerful and unstoppable. It began with desires, wishes and hopes that created a hot core and have unknowingly been building and shaping me, showing signs they were there but unable to truly come forth until the time was right. A tipping point had to be reach, a critical mass, or as it goes with a volcano, the rising forces had to outweigh the pressurizing ones. Something started deep inside me has been finding it’s way to the surface like the molten earth that slowly finds a way to burst out into the open.
It all began with a wish to love myself and a desire to live my passions. In essence, a cry to the Universe to help me be happy. I had no idea it would take a decade to unfold. I’ve written a couple things lately about where I was ten years ago and the things that make that ten year period feel as if it’s coming to a close. For some people, the quest for self-love and happiness unfolds quickly, and it is like the changing of seasons. For others like myself it’s a different cycle, one that is more unpredictable, a bit scary, but incredible and important in it’s own way.
“We are unsettled by the thought that a peaceful mountain can suddenly become an unstoppable destructive force!” - howstuffworks.com
Yesterday I was feeling very, very down in the dumps. I couldn’t shake the feeling and I had no interest in the things that normally cheer me up. I really didn’t understand it because I felt, as I’ve written, that I’d reached a conclusion to these down and heavy times. Where did it come from and what did it mean? The urge I had was to let it come, to let it flow out of me, acknowledge it, and release it. As I went through this during the day I kept getting the visual of a volcano in my head.
I knew this visual was about much more than the moment of eruption. It’s about the entire process, from the moment the magma begins to get pressurized until long after the lava has flowed, cooled, and solidified to create the foundation of something new.
A volcano in many ways is the magnus opus of many nature metaphors for life. It’s the thing that describes it all but only because it’s composed of so many separate parts. It begins with tectonic plates forcibly pushing together and up, by no means a gentle beginning. It continues on to create blistering hot temps, pressurized gas and when the time is right, earthquakes that eventually set off the eruption.
A volcano encompasses it all: death, destruction, darkness, light, fire, pressure, chaos, and in the end, creation. When we are living the volcano metaphor we are talking about changes in our lives that take years to unfold. It isn’t like the gradual changing of seasons, such as the thaw from winter to spring. Nor is it a flash event like a forest fire that seems to go out as fast as it started, having cleared the way for an entirely new landscape. Unlike a fire a volcano does more than just clear the way for the new. It IS the new. It demolishes the old landscape, leaving behind the lava that will cool and form into things as magnificent as the Hawaiian islands.
Yesterday as I went through the day feeling down and as if I was in a haze I could see what it meant. I could see clearly where I was on my journey. The magma that shoots from a volcano comes from about 150 km deep (93 miles). It takes tens of thousands of years to form, pressurize, collect and reach the tipping point for it to explode. I had already had my gestation period, and the relief of no longer feeling I was under intense pressure was great. But why this dark cloud over my day?
Upon erupting a volcano first spews it’s trapped gas into the air. This force thrusts all the ash into the sky that sometimes darkens the sky far beyond the surrounding area. After this comes the lava, the release of all that had been churning and boiling, waiting for it’s moment to come forth. But without that initial moment of darkness, without the ash that momentarily clouds over the sky, the final release would never happen. I was having my moment of release. I had reached my tipping point.
Just as nothing can ever be returned to as it was before the volcano, so am I forever changed. I am actualizing what I had wished for - to embody self-love, happiness and a life of passions embraced. I can’t stuff this back in, and I wouldn’t want to.
Eventually the volcano will cool, a period that could go on for a decade or a century. Once the lava has cooled it’s left an entirely new landscape in it’s wake. It’s decimated everything that was in its path and left a buildup of material from which the new will spring forth. How long before the lava turns into the potential of what it could be? For something like the Hawaiian islands we’re talking millions of years. And so the volcano metaphor also reminds us that some of the best things in life take time. You can’t hurry the creation of something like Maui.
In our lives we don’t have to wait a millennia to see what’s trying to form. But we do have to wait none the less. We have to allow the initial cloud of darkness to dissipate and the lava to cool before we can see what’s forming. And during this time, we can understand our power. The power of potential that took years to set in motion. The power of change. The power to create anew from within.
For all their stunning beauty, the Hawaiian islands are something that were created under some of the harshest circumstances on Earth. In order for a volcano to erupt the vapor pressure of the dissolved gas within the magma must grow greater than the pressure of the surrounding rock. When this balance is tipped… KABOOM! With volcanos, the more resistance there is and the more gas buildup the bigger the explosion. When there’s lower gas levels (a smaller buildup of pressure) and the lava flows easier the explosion is less dramatic. Sounds like our own lives doesn’t it? The more resistance you make the more violently what you’re holding will explode outwards.
Today I feel the cloud has lessened. I feel happier and sunnier. At the same time, I can feel the difference. The difference of having reached the critical mass, the tipping point. I can only wait and see now what my world will look like after the ash has settled.
As we approach this type of release the times coming up to it can waver between calm, pressure filled and downright tumultuous. Just as an earthquake helps to shuffle the pressurized rock and lift the gasses ever closer to expulsion, the reshuffling of our lives can appear like setback after setback when they are in fact inching us ever closer to that which we desire.
After time we can see that these small shifts we went through were in fact all part of a bigger picture. Each small victory was essential and important on its own, and yet together they take on a new level of importance. It was all helping us to grow our magma, our core, to a point of critical mass so that we may release and truly clear away the old once and for all.
Once the lava is down we have the first inklings of what will be. We can see the foundation laid for a new life, a new world, and one that is totally of our choosing. From this point we can truly see how grand the cycles of our lives are, how far they extend, and how as we open our perspective wider and wider we see that there are no limits to how big the cycles are. Each moment is part of a bigger story, each story part of our life, our lives part of many lives that in turn create what we call a Soul.