“Listen–are you breathing just a little, and calling it life?” ~Mary Oliver
The past month I’ve felt myself standing on unstable ground. I’ve felt alive. I’ve felt afraid. I’ve felt engaged. I’ve felt committed. I’ve felt lost. My thoughts have wandered down so many paths.
When I made the decision to walk away from Operation Smile, a good friend wrote four questions on a piece of paper for me. I tucked them away into my journal knowing I’d revisit them when the timing felt right. Today was that day. Each of the questions is meant to guide your thoughts towards defining a life purpose. I let my thoughts wander some more. I wrote down everything. A common theme quickly emerged.
These words kept finding there way to my paper. If you were to ask me what I want to be be when I grow up, my answer is simple and complicated. I want to be a safety net. I want to provide my boys a safe environment to explore, to succeed and to fail. I want to be there for Christian when he needs someone to catch him. I want to be someone people can count on to lift them back.
As all these thoughts took shape on paper, there is one moment that came rushing back to me.
My heart always wanders back to Utah. During our canyoneering adventure, Christian and I faced so many obstacles that have defined our marriage. This past month isn’t an exception.
Later in the day on that life changing adventure, we approached the edge of a waterfall. There was one way down. We would lower ourselves using our own strength to get to the pool 30 feet below us.
I was paralyzed. Taking a step down, trusting myself to support myself, froze me in tracks. I sat and stared. I cried. I couldn’t make my next step. In that moment Christian wanted to save me. He couldn’t. I needed to do this on my own.
I don’t know how long I sat there. I don’t know what convinced me to take the first step. But I do know the fear that I felt. I do know the relief I felt when I made forward (or downward) progress. I do know the rush of satisification as my body was submerged in the pool below.
The past month I’ve been sitting on the edge paralyzed.
As I filled my journal with words today my vision became clear. If I want to be a safety net, it has to start with myself. I have to catch myself.
“…there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
This journey has been messy and inspiring. It’s been confusing and reassuring. It’s reminded me of everything I already know.
It’s time to start living it.