I work as a therapist. I have also been in a lot of therapy. My life’s work is about transformation and change. I have studied, worked and trained to understand how our relationship to ourselves and others can be changed. I know my clients have benefited, often in life changing ways, from the work we have done together. Personally though, I have found it very difficult to escape stories that have haunted me down the years. My adoption at birth into a cold and stressed family seems to have made me fearful, anxious and prone to addictive tendencies. I think it is my discomfort at being me that has driven my restless search for answers and solutions.
Then I saw something.
I was out for a walk with my wife in our city. We sat down on a bench near an electric car attached to a charging point. Another car pulled up and parked up. This car was petrol driven. As I looked at these two cars I realised they may have both been cars but they had a completely different operating system. Not only that but if you tried to swap the means of putting power into each car, nothing would work. Maybe you would even break the car.
I started to wonder if change and transformation is more fundamental than I had thought. I grew up with the widely held view that my life was shaped by my upbringing. This assumption lies behind various forms of therapy. Coming to terms with past pain and recognising my life journey is certainly important. However, this process of healing and repairing is all happening inside the same operating system. It is like taking a petrol car to a garage and fixing it up to work better. But it is still essentially a petrol driven car that operates in a particular way. Let’s call this Operating System 1, or OS1.
But what if it was possible to switch to a different operating system?Let’s call it Operating System 2. or OS2.
What if there is a ‘deeper magic’ as C.S.Lewis called it? Or as James Hillman puts it an acorn of our true potential that is not affected by issues of family and upbringing. Maybe this operating system is obscured by the drama’s of our lives but it is consistently present. It is our true nature and calling and for me it flows in and through a spiritual life that we occasionally glimpse in our rear view mirror. OS2 is sustained, not by stress, effort and good intentions but by a force bigger than ourselves. This is what recovery groups call a ‘higher power’. OS2 is not shaped at all by life events, the stories we create or what others say about us. It is unattached, unknowable and unconcerned with ‘getting it right’. It is uninterested in the language of problem and solution because in this operating system there is little analysis, just the dancing energy and flow of moment to moment living.
It is possible to go through life as a spectator to a drama unfolding in front of us. We can be observers to our own lives. Drama is engrossing and even feels like it is happening to us. This was me in OS1. I became a world expert in being able to tell you why I was in a mess. I had an explanatory narrative that I could describe to you in great depth. And while probably true, knowing this information was not enough to shift me out of my operating system. I was still living out of my story rather than my identity. I was telling the narrative rather than being the hero in my own story. OS2 is all about being an actor in the show rather than a spectator and is a completely different sphere of operations. In OS2, you are flowing in the action. You are being affected and you are affecting the course of events in real time. You are ALIVE!
It may seem that I am advocating a big change, a leap in the dark. But the big reveal is that going to OS2 is just returning to factory settings. It isn’t new at all. It’s been there all the time. It is the deeper magic that is our deep identity or soul. It pre exists the troubles of childhood. So perhaps a better way to describe this is not so much a switch but an awakening to an identity that we always had. For me this ‘acorn life’ showed up in the first time I acted, the time I stood up and read the bible in front of a church and playing Velvet Underground songs in a band. Of course, none of this is to diminish the real pain we may experience in life and the way that shapes us. This is not in any way to diminish childhood trauma. I am a living testament to how the trauma of rejection and judgement can kill the spirit of a child. However it is a relief to know that I am not defined by damage but by a deeper, older magic that I have glimpsed at different times in my life. The marks of this magic are a sense of flowing in an energy best described as joy and love. It is from within this operating system that we reconnect with others, the universe and our own divinity.