I’ve been thinking a lot about sovereignty lately. Of the ways in which my drive to be free, to have authority over my own life, has shaped my choices over the past sixty-plus years.
And of the ways in which this longing for sovereignty, for freedom, collides with the seductive whispers of sedition. Those internalized voices that say: If you don’t bow your head in submission, just a little, you’ll lose your livelihood / friends / lovers / children / colleagues / security . . . whatever my reptilian brain believes I need to survive.
It’s an uncomfortable and uneasy negotiation. My soul knows with absolute certainty that my work is to be fully myself, and to help others be fully themselves. To bring my genius and capacities to bear in shaping a world that draws each of us into full, creative engagement with life. To make my life a journey of joy that embraces and enhances all of us.
My soul knows this.
And then there’s that old dragon that squats in a corner and breathes gusts of fire to protect its hoard. Somewhere in the dim recesses of its labyrinthine mind, it’s protecting its sovereignty too. Except that the old reptile operates on instincts that were honed in the age of the Saber-toothed tiger.
Its vigilance kept the species alive when to fight, run away, or die were the only choices. Now that the world around us seems to be regressing to the eat-or-be-eaten world of our ancestors, now that our homes and livelihoods are threatened by economic collapse, by distant wars, megalomaniacal rulers, and the global threat posed by climate change, the dragon rises again.
This past week, I met the dragon face to face — in an encounter with someone else’s dragon, in response to which my own rumbled and lashed its tail. I experienced the ways in which I lose my sovereignty when I allow the dragon — in myself as much as in anyone else — to govern my actions.
So this week’s lesson on sovereignty was about the seditionist in me. In the words of the immortal Pogo (of comic-strip fame): “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Except the dragon is not my enemy. Just an old friend who’s set in his ways. Who responds to love, as all beings respond to love. Who’ll sleep peacefully — and use his considerable power for good, when he’s awake — once he knows he’s safe.
Sovereignty comes from knowing that I have the power to choose the qualities I bring to my life. It’s setting clear boundaries, not by putting up walls but by generating a field of love and kindness, of generosity and compassion that governs my inner kingdom. And makes it safe for all its inhabitants. For the dragon too.
How about you? What are the qualities of your inner kingdom today? If they’re not what you want them to be, you can change them. You can restore your inner dragon to its rightful place in your kingdom, with love, understanding, kindness, and the sweet honey of compassion.
You’re the sovereign of your life. How will you choose to live today?