After years of personifying everything from coffee to heartbreak to music, I decided to create a little character called life – and then take it as my lover.
Personifying random stuff
I’m a big fan of personifying random stuff. By that I mean taking abstract or formless things – like music, or longing, or money, for example – and giving them each a nickname, face, body, voice, scent, dress style, sense of humour, and other quirks.
You may well say I’m a weirdo. But I’m not the only one.
Since time immemorial, we humans have employed archetypes, deities, idols, symbols, mythical creatures, and so on in the sharing of our stories and expression of our inner worlds. Many integrative psychotherapy approaches (such as psychodrama, Voice Dialogue method and Internal Family Systems, to name a few) attribute ‘characters’ to different emotions, or aspects of the psyche or subconscious, so these fine folk can then be communicated with more effectively.
So perhaps personifying random stuff is somewhat instinctual. Maybe it’s our humans’ red hot go at fathoming the unfathomable. For me, this practice helps me create something resembling conscious relationships with what would otherwise be a bunch of highly influential – but elusive – characters in my world. I’m all for it.
After 30-something years of personifying everything from coffee to creativity to heartache, the question eventually arose: what about life itself?
To give you a bit of context, at this point I had been hungrily dabbling for many years in a fairly broad spectrum of personal development, philosophical, and spiritual teachings. On any given day, I might have been dancing with the Dao, prana, chi, electromagnetic energy, Shiva-Shakti, the Goddess, the quantum field, God, the universe, Brahman, Great Spirit, mojo, kundalini, oneness, or all-that-is. Life by any other name, right?
So, what if life could appear to me in a manner I could really relate to and interact with personally as well as energetically?
I decided to try to meet life in this new way. Through my dancing, meditation, writing, dreaming, and general musings and meanderings, I posed the invitation, “OK, life. Reveal yourself.” Life replied, “Right-o, then. Let’s have some fun.”
I hadn’t expected such a swift response.
Good cop, bad cop
As happens with pretty much every creative project I’ve ever embarked on, as soon as I decide to dive in, I get a visit from a rather gnarly being who I affectionately call IAK. IAK is my Inner Ass-Kicker. Think angry drill sergeant meets tyrant meets Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. IAK is actually a conglomerate of all my nay-saying inner voices, such as the Perfectionist, the Critic, the Defeatist, and the Accuser. As soon as I floated the idea of personifying and befriending life, all these uninvited guests rocked up together, chanting their familiar chorus of, “How dare you?… Who do you think you are?… You’re officially bonkers… Where are you even going to start?!”
That last question had some merit, I’ll admit. I mean, existence is a fairly large thing.
My confidence waned initially. Then something shifted. Life had insisted I have fun with this process. Who was I to argue? I recognised the cheeky presence of Artistic Licence stirring within me – that impish character and I are old friends. Artistic Licence encouraged me to assume full permission to just play with possibilities and make creative choices. This wasn’t anybody else’s interpretation of life; it was just mine. It could be my little secret, and I could embark on this project – just for fun
“Game on, Big L,” I said.
Big L. Where did that come from?
“Do you mind if I call you that?” Me. Sheepishly.
“Not at all, baby. If that resonates for you, bring it on.” Life. Amusedly.
Start where you resonate
Resonance, hey? There was the key to this whole exchange. If I was going to create my personal reference point for something as exponentially huge as life itself, then the way to do it was to tap into what about life personally resonated, lit me up, and made me feel alive.
Thus, life began to reveal itself to me as a kind of hybrid of everything and everybody I was most vibing with. Every time I felt love for something or someone, I wove it into my mental image of this character called Life.
Over the weeks following, Big L emerged as a kind of rockstar-Jesus mashup, with a wild forest for hair, malachite galaxies for eyes, and an endless indigo ocean for a heart. Life spoke like Leonard Cohen and sung like Jeff Buckley. Big L wore faded bootleg jeans, bare feet, and a band t-shirt, or pinstripe pants, a waistcoat, and a fedora, depending on the occasion. Life moved like a cross between the guys from Stomp, Michael Jackson and my three favourite hombres from the ecstatic dance floor. Big L’s facial features included the smirk of my biggest teenage crush plus the cheekbones of the grown-up one who got away (OK, one of the ones who got away).
As I started to experience life from this perspective, everything seemed to become more vibrant and enjoyable
Together Big L and I gaped in awe at deep space pictures from the Hubble telescope, belly laughed at funny movies, wrote songs, and made doing the housework into a cute adventure. Big L was present, devoted, playful, wise, and hilarious. I had suspected in the past that life had a wicked sense of humour. Now I was convinced.
To say I was having fun with this process is an understatement. After a month or so, I looked up to realise the glaringly obvious; not only had I created a personified reference point for life that I could interact with – but my Big L was a smoking hot babe, and I was completely in love.
Life as lover?
Ergo, the next question arose: what if life and I could be a little more than friends? This idea was both shocking and exhilarating to me.
As IAK was quick to point out, the very notion was the height of audacity. Not only do I dare attempt to encapsulate all of existence into one of my funny little imaginary friends, but now I’m going to take it as my lover? Have mercy.
But once again Artistic Licence and Big L teamed up to tell me to play on regardless. So I did.
The concept of taking life as my lover actually made sense to me on a couple of levels. We are each of us in partnership with life, whether we choose to make it conscious or not, right? And as we are embodied, sensual beings by nature, why wouldn’t we want this partnership to be an embodied, sensual experience, as well as a conceptual one?
Many tantric and other spiritual traditions teach that creative life force and sexual life force are essentially the same thing. And that the presence of both is everywhere, if we choose to see it this way. The Greek god and goddess Eros and Aphrodite did a smashing job of being the pin-up boy and girl for personified sensual love and desire in their day.
Taking life as my lover mostly presented as giving myself permission to feel the presence of Eros and Aphrodite in everyday life.
I allowed myself to be turned on, not just by certain people or in specific situations
I was aroused by the elements, nature, music, humanness, by life itself. It was the reclamation of my original innocence and capacity to feel a broader spectrum of delight than I had previously allowed myself.
I slowed down my usually hectic pace, started to breathe more deeply, and became more aware of all of my senses moment to moment. In the same way that we relish the experience of getting to know a new lover, every nook and cranny of life became an object of fascination for me.
And how did this affect my relationships with real live humans? After all life, the universe is a fairly hard act to follow, right? Actually, this process boosted all of my connections significantly. I began seeing everybody as a unique expression of Big L, and my love for both my close kin and all of humanity became more lustrous and visceral.
The lover has many faces
As this dance progressed and new characteristics began to emerge, I realised that my initial mental image identikit Big L was just the beginning. I had in effect created a humanesque and quite masculine starting point, as at the time of creation, that was the presence I was most longing to be met by.
Over time, Big L revealed itself to me as something of a shapeshifter. Depending on the quality of love and support I was needing, a relevant sub-character would present, each with its own unique essence and appearance. These became known as the Comrade, the Confidante, the Leader, the Nurturer, and the Lover/Beloved.
The arrival of all of these fine folk in my world was a game changer
The Comrade is my co-pilot, my partner in crime, who calls me to step up to the practicalities of honouring my mission and my word, and has my back.
The Confidante is my empathic friend, who knows all my fantasies, secrets, shames, and desires, who never judges, who commiserates when things don’t go well, and celebrates with me when they do.
The Nurturer is soft, warm, caring, unconditional, inexhaustible love and support.
The Leader is the embodiment of direction and purpose, initiative, decision-making, and confidence.
The Lover/Beloved is adoring, passionate, sexy, committed, present, and romantic. This depiction can change form regularly, depending on what I’m attracted to and what I need at the time.
After all the years of tangling with IAK, I had finally managed to find its nemesis, Big L: my champion, my best friend, my lover. Whenever negative self-talk cropped up, in sauntered Big L and countered it with abundant love and support. I truly felt that the universe was on my side, and that rather than life ‘happening’ to me, it was responding to me. This was both empowering and deeply humbling
Beyond the honeymoon phase
But as exciting and novel as this project was, like all relationships, the initial fizz eventually wore off. Some days life just felt unfair, heavy, and arduous, Big L didn’t seem like such a dreamy sex bomb on those days.
As our little honeymoon phase came to an end, it was clear that a deeper commitment was required to keep the love alive.
I had effectively ‘created’ Big L in the image and likeness of all the qualities and people I wanted to be close to. And in doing this, I had somewhat externalised my source of love and affection.
Of course the paradox here is that life is within each of us, just as much as it’s around us. We’re inseparable from life, and in fact we are our own unique expression of it. So everything that I was bundling up into this character of Big L and placing outside of myself was actually coming from within all the time. Big L’s love was my way of receiving the self-love that was hard to find inside at times. I had been outsourcing to insource, if you will.
As this realisation landed, I laughed out loud. The cosmic joke is pretty brilliant.
The dance goes on
I feel that life is a curious collaboration between our circumstances, biology, and the artistic licence and free will that we bring to the party. By fully acknowledging the privilege of my circumstances, I was afforded the opportunity to play with life in this way.
I love seeing life as a dance, a dynamic improvisation in which we each get to be active co-creators.
Each morning I wake to another day in partnership with this glorious thing called life. I stretch, smile at the sky, the ground, and my body and say, “Good morning, Big L, you gorgeous thing. Let’s dance, baby.”
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