Consciousness and the Red Cardinal: Learning to Love the Questions

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you…” – The Gospel of Thomas

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a character who was so focused on his good looks and accomplishments that he was incapable of loving another, which eventually caused his demise. Over the years, he’d had his share of women all of whom had eventually seen thru his external disguise. Nonetheless, there was one steadfast admirer who deeply loved him, and despite all evidence to the contrary, fully believed he would eventually open his heart to her. After making her attempts to reach him for nearly half a century, allowing him to lead her around on this trail or that, she finally gave up. What follows is my own updated, 21st century twist to the story—in the original version, the woman died of a broken heart when she realized that Narcissus could never return her love. 

Finally, one day, the woman snapped herself out of the enduring spell. Right then and there, she spun a 180 on her brand-new hiking shoes, trashed her old lead boots, and skipped off in an entirely new and different direction, forging her own way. While in the process, she became determined to look into her own heart and soul for the love and support she’d been waiting endlessly for Narcissus to deliver. The woman never looked back and gleefully went on to fulfill her destiny, hiking her own happy trails, while inviting other women (and men) to see whether or not they too may have been hoodwinked by their personal versions of Narcissus (sometimes disguised as a Prince or Princess Charming). Unfortunately for Narcissus, after the woman went on her merry way, Nemesis (the god of revenge), lured Narcissus to a pool of water where he became so transfixed by his own reflection that he perished, forgetting to sustain himself with food or water. Yikes. (I suppose there could also be another 21st century twist where Nemesis is renamed Siri and Narcissus can’t stop posting selfies, but I’ll leave that to your own imagination.)

“When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.” – Maya Angelou

After long periods of contemplating her behavior, the woman began writing down her thoughts and observations about various pivotal moments when she could where see she’d been warned to pay attention. One of these was a memory, a very interesting event she witnessed while visiting Narcissus at his cold, sterile, and heartless residence. A magnificent red cardinal kept flying into the dining room window (apparently lured by its own reflection), threatening to stain the crystal-clear glass. Over and over and over again the bird repeated its behavior—banging into the window—at constant risk for creating its own demise. She was amazed that rather than becoming annoyed at the cardinal, Narcissus was instead simply fascinated.

“Why is this creature so enamored with its own reflection,” he wondered aloud?

What was that powerful, bright red bird’s message and for whom was it intended? Was it for the woman, for Narcissus, or for both? The cardinal finally struck the window one too many times and dropped to his death. (Yikes, again.) It wasn’t until much later that she grasped the lesson. She knew Narcissus had been drawn to his own reflection and to his ultimate demise. She was both sad and grateful for this “aha” moment, presented by the tragic death of a bird. The cardinal had unwittingly sacrificed his life in delivering a wake-up message to her and her Narcissus.

“How can we train ourselves to welcome change, be attached to nothing, and to wait for no one?”

Happily Ever After…Right Now by Luann Robinson Hull

“The silent and powerful voice that guides us in this training is unmistakable. It is the voice of love… This voice is ever available. If you listen, it will guide you to welcome the questions and the mystery—even more than the answers and the familiar.” – from Chapter 7 of Happily Ever After…Right Now, 2nd edition due out in e-book on June 23

I’m certain the woman portrayed in my Consciousness and the Red Cardinal tale did not achieve her freedom by casting blame. Rather to the contrary, she praised ‘ole Narcissus for highlighting that which was no longer working for her. He was just doing what was natural to him. She finally realized she didn’t have to plant herself smack dab in the middle of his performance.

The woman and Narcissus were from two different orbits. She tried to blend into his, a dreadful mistake. Furthermore, it was not her place to judge Narcissus for his seeming self-worship. After all, he most certainly was a handsome, smart, and accomplished specimen. Perhaps it served him in some way.

Most important of all, she didn’t blame herself for endlessly walking around in “lead boots.” Instead, she took responsibility for the part she played in the Narcissus-drama. She celebrated a newfound willingness to do whatever it would take to dissolve an unfulfilling pattern that she’d come to accept–but only after she’d questioned the root cause of her pain. The answers she found inspired her gratitude for time spent with Narcissus, whose behavior (and hers, while in his illusory clutches) had awakened her to the utmost need to break away from methods of operating that no longer served her.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart
and to try to love the questions themselves
like locked rooms and like books that are written
in a very foreign tongue.

Do not now seek the answers,
which cannot be given you
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day
into the answer.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Hearts, Please join me in living the questions during this time of great upheaval, transformation, and change. For in the rubble of outmoded ways of operating both individually and collectively—represented by the old patriarchal structures, a brand-new society is primed and ready to be ushered in. We can participate in that possibility by “living those questions” of ours, repeatedly letting go of any pattern, person, place, or metaphorical lead boots that are weighting us down. While in the process, we must consider our gifts and strengths and how we can contribute to the approaching golden age of possibility. As we do, joining with others of like-mind along the way, we create the possibility for true happiness and unending joy to emerge.

By letting go of these patterns, we can set ourselves free from the illusory bondage that we normalize while in the captivity of a dead-end-romantic-dream. In letting go, we create an opening, a void into which our conscious awareness will flow. You may be utterly amazed at how effortless it will be once you begin to “love the questions” and seek your own answers one-by-one, making progress toward the best version of yourself that you can envision.

Believing in you!

Leave a Reply