How we lose the magic
Think back to the feeling of being a child out exploring the world. How vivid our imaginations were! How the days seemed to last forever. How we created spontaneous games. The world was so exciting. The colors so vibrant, the scents so fresh. We belonged to and loved the world, and it belonged to and loved us right back.
If you didn’t have a childhood like this due to living conditions or other circumstances, then perhaps you can recall a moment from later in life—during a walk in nature, or just an epiphanic moment—in which you remembered your imaginative, childlike curiosity and wonder.
However, as we grow older, the sense of childhood magic slowly dissipates, as habits and routines take over. We become the dreaded R-word: responsible.
Our responsibilities slowly pull us away from the mystery and magic of our souls. They push us from consciousness into unconsciousness. They take us from vertical time—a state of timelessness and wonder—to horizontal time, where everything is measured and valued against made-up criteria.
Our many adult responsibilities turn us away from the miracle of the continuous buzzing of birth/life/death cycles all around and within us to the droning of zombie-like repetition. They shackle us to our routines like a prisoner to his chains.
As we “grow up,” our world fades from color to black-and-white. From possibilities to the dualities of right and wrong. From healthy experimentation to goods and bads. Exploration, trial-and-error, gameplay, role-play—these things get left behind, remnants of a childhood we don’t believe belong in adulthood.
Along the journey from childhood to adulthood, we lose touch with who we are and what we’re capable of. We begin to feel alone, instead of interconnected. We feel as if it’s us against the world, rather than feeling supported and cared for by the world. We grow older, hardened against the world, instead of merging with it.
We crystalize and become like ice—frozen over and numb.
Our separation from our soul and the world can be sudden and sharp, or it can be slow and dull. Either way, one day we no longer remember that life is supposed to be an adventure of magic.
In forgetting this as our birthright, we begin to live each day just as the one before it, following patterns and routines that may or may not be healthy for us. We stop reflecting on our days; we stop wondering where and how we can be happier, more joyful, more content. If we do happen upon a reflective moment, it is generally to vindicate ourselves or blame someone else or a situation for our behavior.
And so it is no surprise that over our lifetime, we begin to gain weight. I’m not talking about physical weight. I’m talking about emotional, psychological, and spiritual weight. And as we gain this karmic weight, life begins to feel more like a burden than an experiment our souls once envisioned.
Karmic weight is the weight that builds up when we lead a non-reflective, passive life. When we forget that we are souls embodied. When we fall asleep, but forget to dream.
Contrary to some teachings, karma is not about “getting what’s coming to us.” It’s not designed as a punishment. It’s merely a result of our actions, a realization that every action has a rippling effect in the universe.
No matter how simple or complex a life we live, no one is exempt from the universal rule that our actions and words are like pebbles tossed into a pond.
For those experiences and actions where we’ve learned what we needed to learn, made amends, or in any other way accounted for our actions, there is no resulting karma. It’s a “clean burn” situation.
Karma occurs when, instead of reflecting on or learning from our experiences, we stuff them inside our bodies and defend our actions with pride, sheltered behind a lack of insight. Shame might cause this. Guilt could cause it. Societal beliefs might be behind it. But wherever and however we learned to shelve and store our experiences rather than digest them, the result is a slow weight gain that makes us feel increasingly heavy, slow, and dull.
Karma is the buildup of experiences stored within our bodies rather than reflected learned from, and released.
Karma has weight. Extra weight in our psyche makes us feel guilty without knowing why, fearful of new experiences without explanation. It makes us bulwarks against change and transformation.
Karmic buildup brings anxiety and depression. It keeps us on the outer edges of our lives, living from the outside looking in, not allowing ourselves to move toward the inner realms where it is lighter, freer, and more connected.
Karmic weight becomes like lead. It limits our movement and freedom until it feels impossible to ever greet life with the childhood exuberance we once had so naturally.
The mid-life crisis
By mid-life, many adults have settled into their routines. They’ve built up defenses around themselves to avoid doing the work of reflection and reassessment. They carry around the weight of several decades of undigested karma, carrying it into every interaction and situation without even being aware of it.
The added karma results in our inability to approach the world with a freshness of vision or an opening of arms.
Life experiences are like food. We are meant to chew on them, digest them, grow from them, and eventually, let them go. We are not meant to hold on to them forever lest they make us heavy, lethargic, and less flexible.
Extra psychic weight requires layers of protection and powerful boundaries, boundaries that act more like barriers because there’s no porousness or negotiation.
And these feelings all lead to a sense of hopelessness, incuriosity, and apathy not only about our lives but about human life in general.
We’re no longer interested in talking to trees, or following the trails of the local critters. Rather than rectify our issues with others by the end of the day like we did when we were children, we let issues linger and fester into wounds that we pick at whenever we want to feel justified.
We’ve given up on true belonging and have settled for fitting in, or simply sitting out. We’ve lost interest in getting to know other people at a deep level, and instead live our lives through avatars and screens.
You might think you’re only hurting yourself by not doing the work of lightening your karmic load. This is simply not true. One person sitting out is a missing piece of the whole. Society will not be equitable and fair as long as there are people of good conscience sitting out, thinking that their participation, or lack thereof, doesn’t make a difference.
We might think that doing nothing is equivalent to doing no wrong. But know this: the universe does not abide a side-line sitter. Our souls chose to come to this earth for a reason. They did not take a leap into this life only to turn around and try to escape it. Our souls came here to embody this earthly life. They didn’t come here to stay pristine and “above it all.” They came here to get muddy, to try new things, to experiment in human form and through the human body. The soul wants to go down and in. It already knows up and out.
It is part of our soul’s journey to be active, vocal, and even disruptive participants in this life and in the world. To be an advocate, a justice-seeker, an innovator. To be changemakers in whatever particular way we do it.
And we can’t do this with all this lead weight we’re carrying around. We’ve got to unburden ourselves. We’ve got to transform what has become leaden in us into gold.
Turning the “lead” into “gold”
“The gold is in the dark. And one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.” ~ Carl Jung.
The karma that weighs us down is the same karma that can set us free. No more thinking that karma is something that happens to us, or is out of our control, or our fault. Karma is not toxic, and it’s not designed to hold us back. Intead, karma is the raw material meant to usher magic and wonder back into our lives. To wake us back up. To remind us of our souls. Karma is kindling for a fire of awareness. Like mold becomes penicillin, our karma becomes wisdom if we know how to transform it. If we understand the power inherent in it.
Today’s the day to begin the unburdening. To reimagine our way of life and the world in which we live. To face the darkness of our denials and deflections. To make amends and seek wholeness.
And to explore our lives once again with the light footsteps and bright eyes of a child.
Award-Winning Author & Wholeness Advocate
Author: Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness — A Memoir of New Beginnings, winner of the 2020 IPA for Body, Mind and Spirit