The Phoenix has always been my favorite mythical creature, for it represents rebirth, hope, re-invention. Though we all know that the Phoenix dies by bursting in flames, what is less known, is that the death comes 2 ways.
1) after a few hundred years of living, wherever it is, the Phoenix will just burst into flames because her time has come.
2) when she feels the end is near, the Phoenix will go and build her nest, lie in it, and consciously burst into flames.
In either case the rebirth will happen and she will rise from the ashes, better than her previous self.
Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been thinking of 2016. A year of many deaths, whether it is beloved celebrities, or loved ones, or people dying in wars, mass shootings, natural disasters, trans murders, black executions via police brutality. It’s been a heavy year. For the sake of us still here, what does it mean all this darkness? If we are like the Phoenix, how do we take all these deaths to give birth to a better version of ourselves? What part of us needs to die in order for a better version to arise? What have we been holding on to, that which we know is dragging us into the abyss? What is your personal death that needs to happen so that you can step into your own power? A relationship? A job? Your fears? Your limiting beliefs? What needs to die so we can step into a better version of humanity?
When I think of it, every epiphany or breakthrough I’ve ever experienced, came from a time when I thought my life was over. And in a way, it was you know? Not getting my dream upon graduation and every spending a significant time unemployed, caused me to let go of an identity entirely built on my career goals. A brutal breakup caused me to let go of my idea of happiness built on someone else’s wishes. Witnessing the deaths of black folks through police execution caused me to let go of a post-racial America (well at least one with such blatant violence against black folks). Hearing about the murders of transgender women, disproportionally affecting women of color, caused me to reassess the ways in which we are complicit in each other’s deaths, even or especially through our silence. Losing my beloved grandmother, jolted in me the necessity of living boldly, fully, with abandon and abundance whenever possible.
So in all of the darkness of this year, how to we take all of it to build the nest and fan the flames of our little deaths? How do we let our old selves die in the flames of 2016 so that we can become better people, for ourselves and for humanity?
Which version of the Phoenix are you going to be? The one forced by life to let go, or the one who willingly surrenders to step into her greatness?
I know we still have 3 months to go, but I am choosing to be the phoenix who consciously consumes herself in the flames to rise better than before. To willing go to my own death of my old self, to look forward to the rebirth, to look forward with hope, to be committed to constantly re-invent myself for the sake of a great life, for the sake of being a better human being.
The Phoenix is a symbol of hope, a reminder that what often looks like the end, is a rebirth awaiting you. I’m praying for 2016 to be our personal deaths, not of our bodies but of the things holding us back from being great. For all this pain we have witnessed, to not be in vain. For 2016 to give us hope that breakthroughs await us if we surrender, and give ourselves abundant compassion in the process of it all.
You’re going to be just fine. From the ashes, still you will rise.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.