Bob, have you studied the hero’s journey? I think it would help you understand what you went through last year. Any time you are challenged and you learn something that you then incorporate into your life, you’ve experienced a death of something — an old way of being. If you’re not familiar with Joe Campell’s work, check out the movie Finding Joe. I think you’ll enjoy it.
The serpent, which is reviled by many western religions, is considered sacred in the east. Why? Because it must shed its skin in order to develop. If we don’t do this in our own lives, we slowly ossify, becoming very static, very fixed in our ways. I know people like this. I know that when I visit them five years from now they’ll still be talking very much like they are today. They’ve stopped developing.
A symbol I have taken as a personal metaphor is the ouroboros, the snake that bites its own tail. I see this as the snake shedding its skin and nourishing itself by eating that old skin. We can go on many journeys in our lives, be challenged, learn new things, and bring those lessons back and incorporate them into our lives. But even though we gave up living that old way, we don’t lose the lessons we learned by seeing how the old way wasn’t working for us. We are nourished by that old skin that we shed.