In the Release

  Along the trajectory of a life, there are certain markers that stand out as moments when Change Happened.  If every single episode of a life was summarized along a linear path - one snippet after another after another - these markers might be highlighted in bold, or in a larger font; maybe a gold star would let anyone reading these stories know these moments were the big ones, the ones where a significant shift occurred.  Which means that perhaps instead of writing a life story along a straight line, it would be documented along a series of curvy, twisty turns, like the blue line of a river across the expanse of a map.

In this entry, I was in the midst of one of those experiences, which, on the surface, was full of sadness and even shame.  To say "hope was lost" was such a big, heavy statement, conjuring up images of someone crawling through a desert in rags, reaching out to the dunes beyond - grasping, grasping - and then, with a sorrowful pant, collapsing in a heap of despair.  In this entry I clarified that hope wasn't lost as much as it was released, and hinted at the gush of fresh air that was just beginning to swoop in to take its place.

That gush of fresh air has been working wonders, in ways I could have never foreseen.

My intention in sharing the more difficult facets or situations of my life - vague as I am most of the time - is to use them as a backdrop for the positive, powerful  shifts that these challenges always bring.  Which is why I tend not to go into much detail about the circumstances, because they aren't really what is important.  What is important is whether or not and how I use these experiences to grow, to put my values into action, and to take these as opportunities to live by what I say I want to live by.  I have a bracelet that says "I vow to take what I am given", and I don't just wear it for show.  In taking what I am given, and not resisting what is real or grasping for what isn't, I can stay squarely in the present, grounded in truth.

The story of "lost hope" likely isn't over, but in the release - which gave me a visceral feeling of being an astronaut whose connection to the space station was severed, floating off into space - I found I could also let go of the need to continually try to prove myself to the world.  For a long time I felt compelled to talk a big talk about how hard I work, wearing this like a shiny, star-shaped badge on my chest (or my arm or my forehead, wherever it was most likely to be noticed), but I see now that there is no need to go out of my way to explain this.  I work hard - this is true - and what of it?  Everyone I know works hard, and most people in the world work a hell of a lot harder than I do, under more difficult circumstances than I will ever know.

Emile Zola proclaimed, "If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will answer you:  I am here to live out loud," and in that quote I feel a kindred connection to him.  Living out loud means to travel, create, love with abandon, and yes - work hard.  But I am now beginning to feel an entirely new love for working hard, which is a love that isn't at all connected to whether or not anyone else bothers to notice or acknowledge it.  It is a magnificent, joyful freedom - a letting go of needing someone else to give my actions, choices, values, and dreams validation.

I have no doubt I will have moments in the future when I forget this truth, when I start grasping and reaching and hoping and shouting.  The real change that is happening right now is that instead of this feeling of grounded-ness being the exception, I can sense it becoming the norm.  I am not a mere visitor to this new land, I am becoming a permanent resident.  I am coming home.

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide