The Land of And
As I reflect on the most recent miles in my personal journey, and help my clients to do the same, I am increasingly aware that most of us live in a land of make-believe, a barren, bichrome region where imagination isn't welcome and monotony is the spice of life. We've lived here so long that we don't realize what's around us, or rather, what is not. Accustomed to the binary business of life in this land, we unwittingly build tiny houses in which to live tiny lives, eventually boxing ourselves in so tightly that we're left with no options at all, not even "stay or go."
This imagined island is no paradise. We're not here sipping umbrella drinks and contemplating the wisdom of mixing beach bonfires with grass skirts. We're unaware of quite how we arrived here (was there a plane ride? I don't recall anyone asking if I wanted pretzels or cookies...). Many of us would argue that this world is real, and more than a few would actually fight to stay. Yet we cannot fully deny the feeling of being trapped. It lingers on the edges of life in this land, just out of sight, like a sketchy neighborhood directly beyond the privacy fence bordering a resort.
While it's possible to ignore it, on some level we always know it's there. That feeling of being hemmed in, unable to move freely, to open our arms and hearts to their fullest extent, to dance in the rain, to laugh out loud or scream with joy, is pervasive. We can refuse to acknowledge it, but we can't quite cease feeling it.
It's always there, surfacing when we cease the constant distraction that's so pervasive in our culture--the feeling of an ever-shrinking list of options, a sort of soul-level starvation diet. It's the hallmark of this place, where paradise is promised but never delivered, where simplicity breeds scarcity and the collective power of the illusion is always just strong enough to keep us from peeking over the fence. The ethos of this land is sold as the truth, but deep inside we all feel the vibration of a lie.
What is this place? How did we end up here?
I call it the Land of Or. It's the fictitious space created when we believe that there are only two opposing choices, that life is a series of decisions between a clearly delineated Option A or Option B. OR. That's how we end up here. We book a ticket to the land of tiny houses and tiny lives when we begin to believe that we can have this or that. You can be devoted to your family or to your career. You can have more time or more money. You can take care of yourself or take care of others.
Choice is often presented this way in our culture. Teens are counseled that they can go to college or work in the trades. Couples are told they can stick it out in the confines of society's definition of marriage or get a divorce. Mothers are warned they can accept the company's maternity leave policy or fall behind in their careers.
When the supposed options are presented in this light, it's easy to book the trip. If we're not careful, we suddenly find ourselves living in the Land of Or, believing that everything is divided up into two tidy columns (hello, pros or cons!) which are naturally mutually exclusive of one another. This is the framework for the tiny house, the box that encapsulates a tiny life. The walls on this f'd up fantasy island aren't built of timber or stone. They're crafted from Or, a limited, binary system that reduces options, eminence, and humanity in equal measures.
Duality is the evil king that rules in this land. Everything is a choice here, and it takes a lot of work to avoid noticing that no choice ever feels quite right. To choose this means losing that. To go here, you can't be there. These distinctions are presented as a service to us, the loyal subjects of Or. There's no need for confusion here, say the travel brochures. Everything is crystal clear. Just make your choice and you shall have what you have chosen. Let's not discuss what you won't have...
To the right side of Duality sits his premiere henchman, Finality. To further reduce our stress, all choices here in the Land of Or are final. Once you go here or choose this, you've signed the escrow papers on your tiny house. There's no changing your mind in the Land of Or, no season of prioritizing one thing now to evolve into a later focus on something else. There are only two roads in this land; yes or no.
It's just the way things are here, we're told. But...is it? If the Land of Or is real, why does it feel so false? What's on the other side of the privacy fence? Why are we so heartily discouraged from looking over there?
I lived in this bleak land until very recently. As the years passed I felt my house growing smaller and smaller, the walls closing in ever closer, crushing me with the restrictions created each time I chose this instead of that. The constriction felt unbearable, but I'd read the brochure. This is how things are here. Choices have consequences. Be glad you've practiced yoga for so long--you'll easily fold up into increasingly smaller shapes to fit inside that increasingly smaller house.
I believed I can save my money or enjoy spending it. Financial security being important to me, saving and investing must be the only choice. Living in the Land of Or, that meant it was impossible for me to enjoy spending my money.
I took it as truth that I can be rigid and controlled or go with the flow. For most of my life, I was rigid and controlled. I did break the Law of Or when I chose to learn how to go with the flow, but since I was still living under the watchful eyes of King Duality, I made sure that I moved completely to the side of going with the flow. All rigidity and structure were banished. This changed the shape of my tiny house, but did so without expanding its footprint.
Another choice I believed I had to make: I can enjoy a healthy body or I can heal a broken body. If something was amiss in my physical self, I would simply suspend enjoying my physicality until I had healed and could return again to joy in my body. Taking pleasure in a body in need of healing never crossed my mind. In a land where everything is either black or white, that felt awfully gray.
It's this rigidity, the refusal to see life as a continuum, that makes the Land of Or so uncomfortable to live in. Like a well-decorated time share, on the surface it seems appealing. Clear choices, yes? There's no waffling in the Land of Or. Pick this or pick that, and that's it. The choice is made, brains and hearts are relieved of the burden of further consideration. A great selling point in a culture fixated on instant gratification.
But this false duality is what builds the ever-tinier house. Each time we believe that we must choose between this or that, we close off options, removing doors and windows from the house, fortifying the walls with ever-thicker layers of Or. This constantly shrinking list of options is the proverbial elephant in the living room of Or, the thing no one is talking about but everyone is aware of. It may seem simple to have only two choices, but it feels awful. We don't actually want this or that. We want some of this and some of that, a custom blend that feels just right to us. Or perhaps we want something entirely different, an Option C that hasn't been presented, and is therefore mistakenly assumed to be nonexistent.
But in the Land of Or, these are not options.
Thankfully, the Land of Or is truly imaginary. Even though most of us believe we are living there, we aren't. It's just a story we tell ourselves (and each other), a terrible fairy tale with a trite and bitter ending. The truth is, we live in the Land of And.
The Universe in which we live is quantum place, inherently filled with abundance. The moment we embrace this concept, the walls of the tiny house begin to move outward, creating more space. The more we look around for And, the more of it we find, until we eventually realize that everything is made of this magical stuff, of infinite possibility.
I was reminded of this truth today as I pulled oracle cards for myself. I was given yet another message that the time for rest has passed and the time for action is upon me. I've been receiving this message, through my own readings and meditations and from others, for several months now.
As I reflected on this repeated nudge to get moving, I found myself resistant. The inquiries into my health are not yet complete. I don't know the root cause of the fatigue that I've been experiencing for several years, and I'm still tired much of the time. Rest was an integral part of my healing process. If I'm not done healing, how can I be done resting? I need to rest or take action...right?
A invitation to return to divine masculine has also been offered to me many times over the last several months. My previous personality was imbalanced in favor of the masculine--all Saturn and Mars, no moon or Neptune. I was linear, driven, and externally focused to a fault. It was this imbalance that drove me to being ill. Over-working, under-resting, and managing my body like a NASCAR crew chief eventually drove my nervous and endocrine systems to their breaking points.
In the last two years I have learned how to embody the divine feminine, how to enter darkness, to flow with grace, to listen and receive. As the Divine Masculine card showed up again in my reading, I found more resistance. The call to decisive action felt like a denial of these hard-won skills. I can be decisive and action-oriented or guided and easy...right?
I began to panic as the walls of my tiny house rose up around me. I immediately felt strangled, threatened, victimized. How am I supposed to do that, I thought. I can't continue healing and honor my need for rest while taking massive action! I can't accept the guidance of my internal voice and be decisive at the same time! I cant be the river and the banks, the sun and the moon. Why am I being asked to turn away from all that I've worked to hard to create? Why am I being called to make this impossible choice?!
As I sat with my resistance, I slowly realized what had happened. Wandering along my path without looking where I was going, I'd meandered into the Land of Or. The cultural messages around me had slipped beneath my skin. I was making up Stupid Rules for myself, creating a false sense of duality where only possibility existed.
And just like that, I was back home. The return journey to the Land of And is blessedly short. We don't need to restrict liquids to 3.4 ounces or subsist on cookies or pretzels; there's no demand for in-flight WiFi or seatback entertainment. The Land of And is quantum; it exists everywhere, in every moment, in every reality. As soon as we recognize its existence, we are there.
And here I am. I can continue to heal and take massive action. I can rest when I need to and move into a season of doing. I can depend on and display divine masculine and divine feminine. I can go with the flow and make decisive choices.
This is my reality. This is THE reality. This is what's on the other side of the privacy fence. Life is not a series of this or that choices, it's a quantum invitation to create a reality that consists of the ideal mix of this and that, a mix that is free to change in any moment. Seemingly opposing things can and do exist in the same moment in time, the same physical, mental, and emotional space. Seasons and changes are a natural part of this reality. Duality and Finality are as fictitious as the land in which they rule. Possibility and Flexibility rule here, beyond the fence.
We're discouraged from looking over the fence and seeing this reality not because it's dangerous, but simply because it's different. The Land of Or is a collective illusion, one shared by most people. It's our communal comfort zone, and the suggestion that we should leave this well-known place feels threatening. That's why so many would argue in favor of the existence of Or, and why many will choose to spend their lives there, trapped in tiny houses. The restriction they know is more comfortable than the possibility that they do not.
This is one expression of human nature. But guess what? We can be hesitant and look over the fence. We can feel the discomfort of expanding our edges and move into that expansion with curiosity and joy. We can feel attached to duality and open our hearts and minds to possibility. We can leave the place we've always been and come home.