• Ilan Cooley

untethered

Updated: Sep 30

"I believe our journey is an intricate matrix held together by strings. Some hold us in place, and others hold us back. Some need to be held onto, and others need to be cut."


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My sense of self is a spirit free, and for the most part I believe this to be true. I’ve rarely considered limits, instead believing there was nothing I could not accomplish, or strive for. A part of me has always dwelled in the clouds, forever dreaming. But as far as I willed myself to go, something gently pulled me back. It was nothing more than a delicate string, barely visible; like the sturdy silk of a spider’s web, but it was ever present, and kept me firmly grounded. I was tethered.

I cannot say if this small safety cord was a help, or hinderance. All I know is a short time ago the string snapped and everything changed. I would have thought a such a tiny tendril would have released me gently into the stratosphere, but it was abrupt, and it was drastic. I can imagine how a balloon would feel about being let go, if balloons had feelings. It was like being swept away. I was suddenly untethered.

There are things in my life that kept me in a particular place for a long time. I think the world is presented to us in boxes, and neat little packages, but that doesn’t mean we need to live in them. These constructs clearly influenced me in many ways. It seems the tether was attached to my overall sense of belonging and place in the world. I had always valued my roots and ability to thrive where I was planted. I had not considered the possibility I needed upheaval in order to grow. I was not seeking a paradigm shift, but I’m guessing those aren’t offered up with hindsight.

Being untethered was new. It challenged my sense of self and security. With the safety harness that had guided me gone, I experienced uncertainty. At first, I longed for the familiarity of solid ground. Like a tiny bird testing its wings, I had to slowly learn to soar. It was not so easy being free. In a way, I had been insulated; safely wrapped in an invisible cloak of comfort without even knowing it. The cutting of the string was a metamorphosis, like that of butterfly who once inched along, only to emerge to life anew—a life with wings. The first step was to embrace freedom. The second was to find direction.The final step was accepting I can fly.

I sought answers from various sources. A trauma specialist asserted I was literally having an existential crisis. I had to look that up. I was rapidly questioning everything. I had to ponder what being untethered really meant. I realized it was personal permission to change anything, everything, or nothing. I decided to embrace it. I’ve felt burdened by living up to imaginary expectations and fears of abandonment my entire life. I’ve always felt balance was a sphere of mind, body, emotion and spirit, but achieving it was just beyond my reach.

Solo self-reflection, accepting circumstances beyond my control, connecting with nature, exercise, writing, and rest, all contributed, but so did seeking guidance from a spiritual advisor named Sheetal Story. Through personal consultation, and a group intuition class, I gained wonderful new skills and perspectives. Most life changing, was the ability to embrace my untethered life even more.


I allowed myself to detach from negative energy, thoughts, or interference coming from unwanted sources. I was forewarned that setting new boundaries would change my world. I did not want more upheaval, but I did it anyhow. I realized taking care of myself had to be the priority, and I could still care deeply about others without fearing rejection, or needing approval. I have learned to wish every soul love and light, while protecting my own needs. Taking back control after the initial shock of my tether breaking was essential.

Our life begins with the cutting of a cord. I believe our journey is an intricate matrix held together by strings. Some hold us in place, and others hold us back. Some need to be held onto, and others need to be cut. At first, knowing if we are cutting the right cords is like the tension filled moment in a movie when the bomb must be diffused in order to save the day, except we are our own hero, and our own instincts help us snip the right wire. It gets easier with self-trust, patience, and practice.

I now firmly believe if we don’t let our tethers go at the right time, they will simply break, flinging us forward without warning. Perhaps it is a course correction, or a way to force us to change our direction. It is how we are removed from people, or situations that are holding us back, or harming us. If we don’t learn to set ourselves free, it will happen forcibly.

It is all so new to have wings and not strings. I have still not decided exactly what is next, and I don't know where I might end up, but I know it is better to learn to fly and be free.

It seems an untethered life is the life for me.

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