Webster defines the word “evolution” as the gradual development of something, esp. from a simple to a more complex form. What Webster doesn't talk about, however, is the awkwardness inherent in that process. Because let’s be honest, evolution is awkward and many times embarrassing. I was thinking about this today and almost immediately the image of a toddler learning to walk came to mind. I imagined the child’s tiny legs trembling as they tried to adjust to the weight of the body above it. I imagined how many scraped knees, busted lips, and tears proceeded the day when a wobble evolved into a walk. And I am willing to bet that if babies’ had been socialized to feel shame…that whole learning to walk thing would be incredibly embarrassing. I am happy they don’t though. I am happy that during our infancy the world (at least for a moment) seems friendly and permissive of our growth. On other hand, my heart mourns for what is lost between the moment we learn to walk physically and the moment we learn to walk spiritually. For some reason, the world just doesn't seem as permissive or excited about that path.
Honestly, I am not exactly sure why that is. What I do know, however, is that evolution is a necessary part of living a purposeful life; and if a purposeful life is what we seek, we will all have to grapple with the fact that evolution is not a straight path. We can expect to fall along the way. We can also expect to get confused and frustrated. Moreover, since we are older and do not have the benefit of ignorant bliss like babies do, our “falls” will often be pubic and embarrassing. It’s unfortunate, but as adults, oftentimes our indiscretions do play out for everyone to see and therefore judge. In those moments, it’s easy to get so distracted by the shame of someone seeing you fall that you stop moving and stand still.
Lately, I have had to remind myself that this is a mistake. My evolution is mine….and it’s not for anyone else to understand. How could they? They don’t come from where I come from and they are not going where I am going. The same is true for all of us.
Spiritual evolution requires us to move from one way of life/one way of thinking to another one. As we evolve, new things become possible and new experiences become plausible. New destinations, one’s that were once off limits to someone only capable of crawling, will now seem easier to reach as we walk.
In this way, spiritual evolution can be both a beauty and a beast. The beauty in all this is that almost no one crawls forever. If the desire is to walk is there, the body and mind will find a way to do so (no matter how many times you fall in the process). The beast in it is that spiritual evolution is not nearly as simple as physical evolution seems. My spiritual evolution has required me to adjust my stance on a variety of long held ideals about love, friendship, careers, self worth, faith, standards of beauty and so on. My changing opinions have often been unpopular both to other people and to myself. It has been lonely and scary at times, but in the depths of my heart, I welcome the challenge. I am willing to fall flat on my face a million times, in front of a million people, if that means I will be one step closer to walking in my spiritual truth. I know that my mind can handle that spiritual weight of my growth and I know that the same people judging me as I fall will be applauding me as I rise...to walk.