There’s a magnet on my fridge with a quote attributed to Edward Gorey. I picked it up at the Strand some years back thinking it was awfully transgressive and cheeky. Now it sits on my fridge where it occasionally catches my eye while I chop vegetables. In his own hand-lettered font it reads:
“My mission in life is to make everybody as uneasy as possible.”Edward Gorey
And yet, for the better part of my life, nothing could be farther from the truth.
We like to imagine ourselves as many things, glamorized versions of mundane characteristics if not outright invented personas. When I bought that magnet I imagined myself a hellraiser. My hair was dyed a toxic blue, eyes always painted in poisonous shades, my clothes some sort of post-apocalyptic mourning garb.
But that’s where it began and ended.
I addressed everyone politely, taking care not to say or do anything offensive, to act compassionately and diminutively at all times. If they could get past my poison-dart-frog display, no one would find anything but a soft and fearful child.
At one time I was somewhat more rebellious. My friends and I would crack offensive–albeit predictable–jokes at the tops of our lungs, make grand displays of perusing the “adult” sections of book shops, throw snappers off the roof to liven up people’s lunchtime strolls. I’d bring up gruesome true crime cases at family dinners and try to start debates about personal beliefs until my mother growled me into silence.
But even then it was all part of the time-honored tradition of adolescent boundary-testing. How far could I go with those around me and what happened when I got there?
It was this version of myself, long dormant, who bought that magnet. My ideas of rebellion had been reduced to a highly cultivated sense of personal style and even that wasn’t all too shocking south of Union Square. By the time it found a place on this particular fridge I knew well where the boundaries of polite society lay and I didn’t dare to approach them.
Certainly not this side of the times.
I thought, as both a woman and a spiritual professional, my job was to provide a sense of solace. I was a warm and welcoming energy, my presence a balm for troubled souls. I chose my words with care, I tip-toed around heavy issues, felt into others to make sure they were “ready” for certain levels of disclosure. I endlessly apologized and clarified. “Of course this is just my opinion, you have to do what makes you comfortable…”
But I recognize now this was a manifestation of my own fears: a fear of unacceptability and rejection, a fear of inflicting my own pain on others, a fear of scarcity and struggle.
What I didn’t realize was that I was participating in a continuum of pain. By refusing to introduce others to discomfort, I only ensured they remained utterly helpless to the pain they presented to me. I wasn’t helping at all. I was perpetuating trauma by ensuring they continued to live as victims.
It wasn’t until 2019 that this became abundantly clear.
The astrology was foreboding to say the least–major planetary conjunctions defined the landscape ahead with a strong malefic dominance. Even the archetypes and numerology felt uneasy to me. But I couldn’t bring myself to say it. I tried to focus on the positives, stretching definitions as far as I could to find the silver lining–but just a few months into 2020 it became clear that I’d done a gross disservice to all.
By focusing on comfort, I’d only ensured we stayed small, fearful, and unprepared.
I don’t want to sell you solace.
You can go to any number of Instagram astrologers and get their spiritual platitudes.
I want to give you clarity.
I want you to have freedom.
This only occurs by embracing unease. When you throw yourself out of your comfort zone and steel yourself to face the unknown. When you toss yourself headfirst into the abyss of possibility. It means disappointing others–those who expect you to continue to move as a good pawn should, to stay within the prescribed plays and sacrifice yourself when the time comes.
Because once you realize you’re a pawn in the game, you’re free to make new moves.
You’re free to cross the board and assume your place as Queen.
This clarity isn’t comfortable.
It doesn’t feel empowering to accept powerlessness. But in fact it’s just the opposite–only by accepting our current circumstances, however unhappy we are within them, do we find the ability to move forward. We must make the uncomfortable choice to take responsibility for ourselves–mind, body, and spirit–in order to experience liberation.
As I stood chopping sweet potatoes the other night, I found myself looking once again at that magnet. And it was with a certain humour that I realized how true it really was. I may have dropped my neon colours, shed my funerary garments, even reeled back my dark humour, but those aren’t the things which make people uneasy–it’s the truth.
My mission in life is to make everybody as free as possible. And I’ve accepted that it starts here.