Evolution & Attachment to Crisis

By Amanda Moreno

I was listening to Planet Waves FM today and was so relieved to hear Eric’s description of the general trend of being drawn deeper within the past week. Mercury retrograde, among other things, provoking inner investigation. Eric spoke of the soulful quality of Mercury, which in its retrograde motion brings consciousness inward.

Photo by Eric Francis.

Photo by Eric Francis.

There’s been mention in other Planet Waves articles, too, about the particularly deep — and potentially difficult — qualities of the current astrology. I type that and think “and this is different from the past several years how?”

Regardless, I am one of those people for whom the past few weeks have been particularly rough. Stressed out. Frantic. Fragmented. Shifting. And oh-so-profoundly exhausting. As Eric says in the episode — the whole world is tired.

I’ve been thinking a lot about evolution — and attachment to crisis. The word “evolution” seems to have taken on mostly positive connotations in most people’s minds. But it is not an inherently positive thing. Evolution does not guarantee positive progression, partially because a positive evolutionary progression looks different to everyone. Partially because, well, we can adapt to poison in our water supply, but is that a good thing? How does our genetic makeup evolve as a result? Does it? Sometimes I think humans are too adaptable. We will just put up with pain, sickness, heartache. Make it the norm.

Evolution is often linked with karma — at least in my world. At this point I understand karma to be, in summary, a slowly progressing cycle or repetitive patterns that span lifetimes. Karma, like evolution, is not inherently negative or positive. It is not punishment or reward. It’s more like cause and effect. And karmic patterns are very slow to change.

As I try to unravel my own karma, to understand it and shift it at all levels, I encounter periods of time where I feel like my sanity is placed quite precariously on the edge of some precipice. At these times I’m grateful for a life full of structure and obligations, at the same time as I wonder if maybe I’ve taken on entirely too much.

The thing about karmic patterns is that even when they’re ‘bad’, even when they hurt and cause pain or stagnation or struggle, we tend to just follow the pattern anyway. It is hardwired within us. It is habitual. And we tend to fear the unknown. At least a harmful pattern is a known quantity or experience. The known is more comfortable than the unknown.

Humans seem to have a tendency to evolve through crisis. This can be seen at the collective level in so many ways. We seem to be waiting until “it hurts enough” to make change. We can see that plastics are creating a debris field in the ocean that is apparently impossible to clean up, but it’s hard not to use them. We know that our technologies are full of toxic elements, but we use them anyway — many of us upgrading frequently, before the old device has worn out. We know (well, some of us do at least) that nuclear energy is inherently destructive and unsafe, but…we have a whole economy built around it. It’s hard to change. It’s hard to let it all in.

At the personal level it sometimes seems, at least in my experience, that patterns can be impossible to change. They seem to fight back sometimes. The ego — that structure of the psyche that helps us to orient to our experience — is so invested in maintaining its secure identity that it throws in all of these little rationalizations and tricks to keep the patterns intact.

And then…something happens. Maybe you start to do some work on bringing awareness to a pattern so you can change it. Maybe you use ritual. Maybe you plunge into a situation you’ve always feared, hoping for a positive outcome. And then…the pattern starts to shift. And even if crisis hasn’t happened to prompt change in the external reality, anxiety creeps in. Because identity is on the verge of changing. Of stepping into the unknown, away from the pattern. And then maybe hope arises.

And then fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of loss. Fear of betrayal. Vulnerability can happen.

I’ve never really been a fan of taglines like “follow your bliss.” But…there’s something to that one. As Eric said in this week’s podcast: do what you can to stay excited about life. Remind yourself why you are alive. What are you excited about? What makes your heart beat a little faster and your mouth run off to your friends? What inspires you, and what can you do to bring that inspiration in the world? To me, these things seem like the leading edge of evolution; the things that inspire change at the heart level.

These are such confusing times we’re living in. Pardon my ambiguity throughout this post. I typically try to at least weave in some kind of concrete examples. But the fact is — my own identity is shifting so much that all I can really do is embrace the ambiguity. Take some risks. Hope for the best. And try to hope that I can find a way to engage a more gentle form of transformation, because at this point I’m pretty aware of my own entrenched attachment to crisis.

If my experiences in the past few days tell me anything, it’s that risk-taking can pay off — without crisis; that there is strength in vulnerability. And that following one’s bliss does indeed promote a sense of grounded healing.

11 thoughts on “Evolution & Attachment to Crisis

  1. Amy Elliott

    “Do what you can to stay excited about life. Remind yourself why you are alive. What are you excited about? What makes your heart beat a little faster and your mouth run off to your friends?”

    Why in heck does that concept scare me so much? Some assembly required, I think…

  2. Shelley Stearns

    Amy, personally, I have tended to experience a abundance of guilt about that which excites me. The same with breaking patterns; sometimes I feel like I am letting down my entire ancestral line by not doing things that make me unhappy or speaking out about the status quo, which I experience as incredibly oppressive.

    Moving towards what I am drawn to instead of away from it is a newish thing for me, but it’s been a positive experience since I began the process.

  3. Amy Elliott

    Yes, that rings several bells! I like to keep myself firmly under my own control. Dammit. 🙂

    In all seriousness, there does seem to be a prevailing attitude in society that letting go of self-control leads to nasty things happening. Victim-blaming is one rather horrific symptom.

  4. Shelley Stearns


    And then there is the paradox of how one isn’t really in control when one is controlling oneself, which is different, I think, from discipline, ie. I’m not going to go wild eating gummy bears every time I get a craving. Instead, maybe my gummy bear/corn syrup craving is telling me something else like I didn’t get enough sleep last night and want a pick me up or maybe I’m frustrated about something and get satisfaction from the way their texture pulls between my teeth.

    Actually I think the distinction is needed, at least for me.

  5. Gwen

    Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of freedom…it’s fear that keeps us stuck in the old patterns. When we replace fear and doubt with faith in ourselves and our abiliity to be resilient, creative and courageous…we are back on the path to becoming all we were truly meant to be. Do we dare follow our hearts…and choose to do what we love and love what we do? We usually make it harder than it has to be…because we are hard on ourselves.
    The Leap of Faith is not for the Faint of Heart!

  6. Tom Jacobsen

    For me the fear piece comes in because I don’t know what I want. And that leaves me “out of control”. I feel trapped in an inner world of confusion on how to follow your bliss when you can’t find it. Perhaps a dark night of the souls scenario is in effect until the shift happens – and it will.
    I was led to have a session that showed me how I gave my negative thoughts too much power by staying with them. Something I already knew but heard on a deeper subtle level of self responsibility.
    The gift of this Mercury retrograde. I thankfully go on a little more wise…

  7. Amanda Moreno

    Seems like that “negative thoughts” thread is coming up a lot for myself and the people around me – seems like you’re onto something with that hearing it on a “deeper subtle level of responsibility” thing. I’m trying to breathe light into those places, or re-direct to a new thought or object or activity. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Patience and unconditional self-love are so important – and not just cliche terms to throw around. 🙂

  8. Jan Rosgen

    Last month in our little community, 2 people worked for months creating an event called “Heart Sparks”. The purpose was so that people would have the opportunity to share what lifted them, individually or within a group. To quote Eric: “What are you excited about? What makes your heart beat a little faster and your mouth run off to your friends? What inspires you, and what can you do to bring that inspiration in the world?”
    The “big picture” is that, through this sharing, there will be fostered the harmony in community we all want; a different tactic than focusing on the pain that has existed for 100 yrs and trying to resolve that in all its details.
    It was a day of JOY!! The community hall is already booked for next year’s event!

    1. Shelley Stearns

      That is great to hear, Jan. It seems like such a simple thing, but we have to often remind ourselves to do it.

      Also, makes me think how it’s become apparent to me lately how much is contingent on community interaction.

  9. Chad Woodward

    I find that evolution has two paths–one upward and one downward, though not linear, but rather like a spiral. To evolve, functionally, we must strive for change, which is often uncomfortable and scary. Stagnation takes us to the downward spiral; when we get too comfortable, too cozy, we end up degenerating. Like, the path of entropy is the path of least resistance.

    I think that has profound implications for the world today. Anyway, this really rings true on many levels. These eclipses, of course, precipitate the acceleration of change on a personal and collective level–and particularly the solar eclipse lending toward a rapid change in identity. I’ve been feeling the same way, and yes, it’s been a little scary.

    This Libra influx has urged me to start connecting with others–which has manifested as me dating (which hasn’t happened in a really long time). It’s brought up so many insecurities and fears of vulnerability, like feeling unworthy and all that mental crap. I’ve been questioning whether I should just give up and go back to therapy and work on myself, but maybe I need this, maybe I need to meet other people (or maybe I can do both).

    Anyway, my mind has been fueling a mild crisis, almost existential. Like my fears of rejection are making me mildly depressed. But, now I’m striving for a balance, striving to “follow my bliss” and still connect with others romantically without focusing too much on either. I don’t know, I guess I’ll see how it works out. How totally Mercury in retro in Libra is that? Lol.

  10. Amanda Moreno

    ” It’s brought up so many insecurities and fears of vulnerability, like feeling unworthy and all that mental crap. I’ve been questioning whether I should just give up and go back to therapy and work on myself, but maybe I need this, maybe I need to meet other people (or maybe I can do both).”

    Oh, Chad – yes to that and to everything else you wrote. Although I have a ton going on in my life, it’s been my relationships that have been dredging up the depths – insecurities and vulnerabilities and fears I have never experienced before. Choosing to move through it, while continuing my inner work (and reaching out for my therapist) has felt like a huge risk, but one that feels like it’s paying off…

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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