Big and Small at the Same Time

I had my star-chart read a while back.  You know, that thing where they draw all of those lines in the circle and write all of these weird symbols and then somehow magically tell you all about yourself?  Apparently, the idea is to map out exactly where all of the planets/stars/sun/moon are at the exact moment of your birth, so that you can understand yourself from a cosmic perspective.  Sound fluffy?  Yes.  I agree, but: don't knock it until you try it.  

If you haven't had one done, I strongly recommend it.  It somehow set me free in a way that I had never experienced before.  It allowed me to be "more me" than I had ever dared to be before.  I felt like it gave me permission to be who I am instead of trying to change who I am in order to better fit with my perception of societal expectations.  Basically, it gave me permission to be the beautiful mess of contradictions that I am.

You see, I am a Gemini.  A double Gemini actually, which means that my sun sign (the one that you look up in the paper) and my rising sign (the one that was rising at the moment of my birth) are the same.  Apparently, these are the two signs that have the greatest impact on your personality and yeah, that is a LOT of Gemini.  For those of you who aren't super familiar with astrology, Geminis are the "twins" of the Zodiac.  Given that many of us aren't actual twins, what this means is that we have "twin-like" energy WITHIN us… in other words: duality.  

What is duality?  Well, it is essentially contrast or oppositional energy… aka PARADOX.  Yes, us Geminis are the Zodiacal keepers of contradiction (and often confusion).

Which brings me to the actual subject of this post.  

The lady who did my star-chart reading has PhD's in both Astrology AND Psychology, specifically, Jungian Psychology, and has studied with Carl Jung's daughter.  Having a background in Psychology myself, this both impressed me and appealed to me, which is why I was willing to wait six months for a reading with this particular astrologist.  In my opinion, the beauty of her having studied in both of these disciplines is that they are inextricably linked, personality and astrology, and she was able to put my chart into language that I really understood.  Most notably, she used Archetypes to describe elements of "me".  

Not surprisingly, what came forward in my reading was a lot of paradoxical energy, however in particular, she told me that I seem to hold equal proclivity towards both the teacher archetype and the student archetype.

While part of me wasn't surprised by this at all (in fact, I can see how I have always gravitated towards these two roles enthusiastically), I couldn't help but notice that they seem to contradict one another though, don't they? 

Well, they do and they don't.  For one thing: I can be equally comfortable in each role.  I love to learn.  I absolutely love being a student.  Historically, I have been one who gets to class early, stays late, asks lots and lots of questions, does the assignments (even extra ones) and usually gets really high marks.  I have had a lot of success as a student.  On the other hand, I also love to teach.  There is nothing better than the feeling of being up in front a group of people sharing what I know/have learned.  Both of these roles are wonderful.

I also notice that these two archetypes/roles are complimentary.  One certainly feeds the other.  

That being said, there have been times when I have experienced them to be at odds with one another.  Times when I have wanted to simply walk away from one or the other (or both).  It is often the teacher role that I most resist, feeling like I have nothing new to offer anyone.  I feel like a huge fraud.  I feel like setting my e-mail/voicemail to a message that simply says: "I have no idea.  Life is beautiful and life is excruciating.  It just is."  

When I have sat with each these archetypes, it has become clear that what I actually find so uncomfortable, or painful, is moving between them.  Over and over, I have become identified with one or the other, and I am able to get comfortable in that role.  In my Master's degree, I had an outstanding experience as a student.  I really kicked butt.  And I thought, "Yes".  I should keep going and do my PhD… But instead I was called (aka forced) into USING my degree and putting it into practice (aka teaching)… and it was/is uncomfortable.  In my coaching, I LOVED the training course and I thought, what's next?  Oh yes, I will take the Master's training course… But instead I have been called (aka shoved) into coaching (aka teaching).

here is a passage written by Pema Chodron, one of my very favourite teachers, that beautifully describes what I am trying to say:

I was once invited to teach with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, my teacher’s eldest son, in a situation where it wasn’t exactly clear what my status was. Sometimes I was treated as a big deal who should come in through a special door and sit in a special seat. Then I’d think, “Okay, I’m a big deal.” I’d start running with that idea and come up with big-deal notions about how things should be. Then I’d get the message, “Oh, no, no, no. You should just sit on the floor and mix with everybody and be one of the crowd.” Okay. So now the message was that I should just be ordinary, not set myself up or be the teacher. But as soon as I was getting comfortable with being humble, I would be asked to do something special that only big deals did. This was a painful experience because I was always being insulted and humiliated by my own expectations. As soon as I was sure of how it should be, so I could feel secure, I would get a message that it should be the other way. Finally I said to the Sakyong, “This is really hurting. I just don’t know who I’m supposed to be,” and he said, “Well, you have to learn to be big and small at the same time.”
— The Pocket Pema Chodron, Shambhala Pocket Classics, Pages 66-67

Time and time again, I have put the archetype of teacher/coach down.  I have willingly and whole-heartedly gone back to the student role - only to find myself being pulled out of that role and thrust back into that of teacher/coach once again.  

Part of me wishes that I could just STAY in one of those roles.  But I know I can't.  To stay is to get stuck, to stagnate.  I know that is not what it's all about.  It (life) is all about growth and expansion.  It is all about tides ebbing and flowing, seasons changing, death and rebirth.  

I must learn to be BOTH.  I must learn to be big and small at the same time.  I must learn to stop being humiliated by my own expectations.

There is no coming to consciousness without pain.
— Carl Jung

With kindness,

Maren

Nahanni, Dancing Coyote Woman