Out on a Limb

I happened to see Out on a Limb on TV at some point in my teens1. It’s a mini-series based on Shirley MacLaine‘s autobiographical book by the same name, and it was one of several small turning points on my journey. (YouTube has it, in a low-quality version.)

I have a hazy memory of just when in my process I saw it, but I remember the sense that it came to me just at the right moment. It showed me that it was possible to explore things outside of what’s the norm in a secular society. There was a community of people doing it, even outside of traditions, and although I didn’t know anyone personally I felt supported by that community. I read this and other books by her, and I read books by people she mentioned in her books. And so it got started.

Soon, I got into Taoism, Christian mysticism, Buddhism, and more. (Or maybe I had gotten into some of that already, I don’t remember.)

Her books may be New Agey and perhaps more at the fascination2 level than focused on actual practice. For some, that’s enough. For others, it can serve as an important stepping stone. It did for me, and for that, I am grateful.


(1) Why did this come to mind? Partly because I started watching Postcards from the Edge with Shirley MacLaine, and partly because something just happened that is similar to a situation from one of her autobiographical books. (An internal shift in me in how I relate to someone corresponded with an immediate shift in the outer world.) I am also back in the same house where I first saw it and I am going through old things here, so that brings up memories.

(2) The fascination is also helpful, especially in the beginning. It helps people stay glued to the path and continued exploration. This fascination comes from projections. We see something “out there” that’s also in here, through exploring it in the world we get more familiar with it, and we can then more easily find it in us.