“There’s a dream that waits like a tiger”
“They try to bring us down but we just burn brighter”
In the Netflix Original series, “Stranger Things,” people are abducted by a strange and horrible creature. They end up in a mysterious dark place with bad air and tentacled creatures whose victims are ultimately pinned down and die. It’s a place that is right here and just beneath the surface, accessible through strange holes in the earth in nearby familiar places. This place is called the Upside Down. In the Upside Down you can’t breathe, you can’t move, you’re stuck and can’t get out.
The show is fantastic, great acting, and surprisingly not overly scary. Get your blanket, make some popcorn, this is a strong candidate for decadent weekend binge watching. And while the entertainment value is great, for me it has inspired some contemplation of a more serious nature…
I’ve been thinking that the Upside Down is a metaphor for not living in alignment with your purpose, or even worse, not having any sense of purpose; having no idea what you are meant to bring to the world, who you are, what you believe in or why you are here (wherever here is). It’s about what happens when you’re not operating from values or even worse, living in conflict with your values. When this happens the world feels dark and cold and empty.
Maybe the Upside Down is the struggle we feel when we want x dream, or y dream and love z but are only doing a, b, & c. How does this happen? Here are my musings on this question…
First, life happens. Priorities, hard choices, demands, responsibilities, illness, injury, unexpected complications, mistakes and losses occur on our journey and seemingly take us off our intended path. Before we know it, there we are in the Upside Down, drowning in the dark. Second, we happen. We do it to ourselves. We allow our fears and limiting beliefs to stop us, we buy our own b.s. and limiting stuck perspectives, and we ignore our knowing inner voices and intuition and then make unhealthy, unproductive, unhelpful choices that almost insure we stay in the Upside Down.
The pull of these things is real and strong. And as we see in “Stranger Things,” once it’s in you it seems impossible to get it out. But, like Will we are powerful and strong and we can keep fighting for the light of the Upside Up. We can call on the “Eleven’s” in our lives, the magic and mystery that is a faint distant sound in the darkness giving us hope and strength to fight another day. We can lean on the posse, friends and family, that relentlessly fights for us even if it means digging giant holes in the dirt and jumping in with you if that’s what it takes. We can own it & do the work. Start listening differently, pay attention to the flashing lights in front of us and open our minds and hearts to exploring the alternative perspectives they offer. We can challenge ourselves to start thinking in new, creative and supportive ways that lead to more resonant choices and point us to the Upside Up.
A life lived completely in the Upside Up is not likely. Things happen. And the fortunate reality is that a, b, & c things we find ourselves doing and being aren’t going to kill us and we may like them sometimes and even acknowledge that in some ways they support us. What I believe the job is, is to find ways to spend more time in the Upside Up than the Upside Down and shorten the time spent in the Upside Down when we find ourselves there. How? Explore, listen, get creative. Do more of what resonates, aligns with your values and is on purpose and less of the have to’s and should's. Challenge the voices internal and external that tell you that you can’t, should or have to. Be patient, take the long view. Find the joy in the moment and if you can’t, create it!
For me, this blog and my recent foray into mala making and pursuit of other creative projects yet to be unveiled are all part of my search for more time in the Upside Up. Yoga, coaching, long power walks, meditation, journaling, gratitude work, and travel are other ways I claim my place there.
What is one small thing you will do to bring in Joy, say NO to a life only lived in the Upside Down and affirm your place in the Upside Up?
My next thing...a trip to Martinique with Adam.
Hope to see you in the Upside Up soon!
photo by Lynne Bernstein © 2017