Emerging from the chrysalis

By | March 17, 2023

Time distorted its perception during these pandemic years, and it is with a start I realize that two full years of my life have vanished since March of 2021 when I began rediscovering the music of my keyboard. Today marks the 2nd anniversary of a journey of transformation that began the magic of the Kalevala.

It is only because I sit here now, playing the songs of my keyboard, that I recognize the depth, breadth, and scale of the transformation I have undergone; both personally and professionally. I am not who I was when I began to pick the keys out, looking for a long lost song. The rhythm and the music is well situated within me, and bursts forth now with ease, whenever I can find the time to give it the space to do so.

On the day of the spring equinox in 2021 – the week this conscious and deliberate, facilitated and nurtured, transformative journey began – I wrote:

Where do I go from here with my long ago embrace of living in liminal space? How much does being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty benefit me now, as my roots finally start growing deeper into the earth? I can already feel that worldview conflicting with the dissonance of experiencing the peace of knowing, and of certainty, of belonging to a place and to a space and time. It is as though my senses have made a lifelong commitment without my deliberate and conscious knowledge. Perhaps, and it seems to make sense, this might be the root of wanting to shorten the horizon of my mind’s eye – the focal length and shape of the lenses of my sensory inputs – that I perceived yesterday? Ironically speaking, if I don’t want to run off chasing rainbows, then I must figure out how to stop looking for them to the exclusion of all else. Oddly enough, this conclusion seems to fit right. If I do need another quest to lose myself in for the next 15 years, I’ll go looking for magic words in the woods instead. Suomeksi.

Did I find whatever it was I was looking for or did it find me? Today, sitting here, I would say that while I did not know whom I would become nor what I would find at the end of the rainbow I was chasing, I now know that I am here. Yet, at the same time, there’s a sense that the here and now, while clearly the end of the transformation process, is not a static and finished endpoint so much as a reconceptualization of one self and one’s motive drivers. Core values remain the same, yet a sense of dynamism has infused itself within me, breaking through the stuck places and long lodged circumferences of “me” and “I”; a given after more than 50 years of living life. The day before the spring equinox, two years ago, I asked out loud:

Where have all my todays I gone, I wondered, and then wandered off to ponder on my own, away from the keyboard before now returning to face the screen again. Have I spent too long pondering the ‘what might be’ to ever pause long enough to contemplate ‘what is’?

As I reread my daily writings from March 2021 and weave them together with reflections from the perspective of March 2023, it strikes me that I could conceptualize my current positionality in the flowing currents of time and space from a wholly novel way that I could not have articulated much less perceived two years ago. Let me attempt to write this out.

There’s a flow coming back in a way that I have not experienced in more than a decade. Its certainly not the music I’m seeking but neither is it the painful struggle to write that I’ve felt in these intervening years. (March 23, 2021)

I knew then how powerful it would be for me in the future to have access to my thoughts and words and writings, exactly as it is doing so right now. Writing right now does not feel like a struggle nor is there any hesitation in the flow of the words and the moving fingers touch typing with 40 years of practice, beginning with ye olde large manual machines (the kind that build muscles in your little fingers for the letter “a”). Floodgates have opened and I am immersed in, and surround by, the music and the rhythm of my words.

Where do I take things from here, now, as I proceed to identify and establish the changes I am making – in real time – to my own internal navigation systems and sensory input focal length? (March 27th, 2021)

Yet, in a strange way, I would say, that I am still ensconced in the liminal space which two years ago I was attempting to exit from as a past that I felt I should leave behind. I framed my task of evolution, as experienced through the process of thinking and writing on my blog, two years ago, as that of changing the focal length of my mind’s eye from far horizons and distant timelines to one which was more rooted and grounded in the domestic and the here and now. Today I can say that this has not only changed but it has done so in ways that I foresaw in words but perhaps had not yet arrived at the embodied knowing that I am experiencing with a certainty and clarity as I do so right now in March 2023. Almost exactly as I had ended the text on adding a second prism to refine and focus the visions of my mind’s eye is how I would describe the perceptual situation today.

With clarity comes the ability to choose one’s focus, thus offering me the flexibility I need – deeply and inherently – rather than confining me with constraints of preset focal lengths. (March 27th, 2021)

I have not had to give up the lessons of learning how to ‘dance in between‘ nor my decades of developing a comfortable relationship with ambiguity and uncertainty. What has developed is my control over my capacity to adjust and change my focal length, thereby aligning the dissonance I felt when I first began writing – that of feeling rooted in my adopted homeland but grappling with a perceptual sense of far horizons as the only setting for my mind’s eye. In these two years I have somehow managed to reconcile these disparities of vision and position leading to an internal coherence that runs along the meridien of my chi.

Imho, a large part of what is enabling my current ability to think and write – without the struggles and hesitations that have so characterized the past 5 or 7 years where gaps of weeks or months would go by without a blogpost – is due to the singularly uncharacteristic break I have taken from the digital sphere these days. (March 28th, 2021)

Certainly, I have spent more time immersed in offline streams of thinking and writing. Ymmärrys ry is one visible outcome of these efforts over the past year. Others hide within documents in folders on the hard drive. What remains is the detachment from the overwhelming immersion in the digital world that had held me trapped and silenced for so long, almost a decade if these words from two years ago are true. Creativity has found its way back flowing through the ever widening cracks that this deliberate change in my use of the internet and its social spaces.

No greater fear could ever strike at the heart of any designer or maker or innovator than the very idea of the loss of imagination, of inspiration, of the ability to spark innovation or surface creativity. Indeed, I had to agree with him, who were we but soulless husks without the beating heart of the creative at our core? Organic machines responding to stimuli and levers of persuasion and action by the carefully crafted design of the immersive digital experience? (March 29th, 2021)

So again, I am pushed to complete this reflective exercise of the questions and concerns and the journey I began exactly two years ago from the vantage point of time and space offered by today.

Have I solved the conflicts of my mind’s eye so well and framed the re-orientation of my internal navigation system that I am now called upon to pontificate or opinionate or otherwise circumlocute, as I used to do prolifically and vociferously when laying the foundations for this blog and website?

Or, has my word song woken up to the barest minimum required to trigger the long somnolent but as equally long habituated urge to connect some dots; analyze an issue; make a point; or otherwise share an opinion in this globally public digital sphere?

If you do not change direction, you might end up where you are heading. ~ Lao Tzu

(March 30th, 2021)

It had not, and in these 24 months, I am glad that I resisted those urges that called me like a siren song to dive back into the digital persuasion of addictive design. I would not be here now, thinking and writing as I do if I had not as deliberate and consciously as I did, stay away from it all. I changed direction.

For now, at least, I must deliberately attempt to shake up pattern formation and habit establishment before I find myself in deep waters that silence me again. (March 30th, 2021)

It brought me here. I can now go back and play, or not as it may, but it does not have the power to suck me into its quicksand of soul deadening silence as it did back then. My voice is true and it is found, Kaleva, in all these months and years of searching for your songs.

Ijeoma Umebinyuo

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