Today, while folding the laundry, my mind drifted off to thinking about these two words: becoming and unbecoming. (And no, I don’t know what why folding the laundry made me think of this.)
As I have practiced and taught shamanism over the years, I have often thought and talked about this process of becoming, as in, moving toward wholeness, or restoring the integrity of one’s soul. I believe this is the most important work we do here in life—some might say the only work—the ongoing restoration, empowering, expression, and protection of the soul.
Shamanism is all about the health and integrity of the spirit body (soul). When I journey for a client or for myself, I am really just “taking a temperature” of the soul as it presents itself in that moment, gauging the health and balance of its current life by how it shows itself in non-ordinary reality. The healing part of shamanism is then the energetic correction of the imbalances that are present.
Over time, with continued healing, the defensive layers peel off—if we are willing to let them go—and we become more and more true to ourselves, more and more real. I am reminded of that wonderful passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse, “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I think it’s really interesting that another definition of the word becoming is beautiful!
Conversely, a parent or elder probably once scolded me for behavior that was very unbecoming of me. It occurs to me that in the day-to-day struggle of life, as situations tumble down the pipeline, each one brings with it the implication of choice. Do I choose to behave in a way that is becoming, that demonstrates my light and grace—or do I choose to succumb to the struggle, and act in a way that betrays who I am.
This is the tension of duality, and it’s always present. We start out moving through life with the best of intentions, putting our best foot forward, but when our offerings are not returned in like and kind, it is easy to become confused about who we really are or should be, and betray what is true—to unbecome.
Now, I’m not saying unbecoming is unnatural or wrong. I think it’s all part of the journey–the duality. Look at the planets, for heaven’s sake. They move forward and then retrograde back. Forward, back. Become and unbecome. I guess, if like the planets we spent most of our time moving forward, we might well deserve some time to unravel and drive everyone around us completely nuts!