determination · fortitude · health · life · recovery · spirituality · surrender


See, the thing about being saved is that it’s not an
absolution.  You aren’t swept back from
the cliff’s edge and wrapped in a cosmic swaddling, rocked into unseeing bliss.  What you are is placed back firmly onto a
path.  A long one.  Back from the edge, back from the place of
giving up on the work of this lifetime, you are nudged—not so gently, but not
without compassion—onto a path that will require of you work for the rest of
your lifetime.
The cliff’s edge, the leap from it, the ultimate sacrifice
as it might be called is the choice to give up all the work that will ever be
asked of you.  It is to say, Forget it,
too hard, too much, there’s no help, no hope. 
To be placed back onto the path you had made some kind of decision—by
omission or commission—to leave means that you are now responsible to take up
the work you’d abandoned.  It is to look
up from your crumpled knees and see winding before you the path of your
lifetime, the work that will surely be needed to accomplish it, and the
knowledge that to be alive is to do that work.
To be alive is to agree. 
To be alive is to sign an agreement daily that you will, however
falteringly, place one foot before the other. 
To be alive is to agree that you yourself and your life are more
worthwhile than eliminating all the possibilities it holds, all the better and
all the worse. 

And so, pulled back from the edge, “saved” as it were, you
walk with a grim humor, knowing that somewhere you have chosen this.

abundance · adulthood · determination · fear · intimacy · perseverance · recovery · relationships · self-love · self-support

Manic Panic.




It’s what the junior high and high school kids
were using to dye bright streaks of their hair in the 90s. There was one store in the
mall that sold it (Nature Works? – The Nature Company! that’s it.),
and if you said you were going there, you meant that you were going to dye your
hair a brilliant shade of rebellious.
I never bought Manic Panic. I was as straight an arrow as
they come until the end of high school. There was too much order to maintain,
and too many rules to follow, for me to diverge any bit off the path I was
expected to walk.
And so, as I am very apt to do, once I hit college, the
pendulum swung so desperately and frenetically in the direction of “off the path,” that it
swung right around and hit me in the now-pierced face, like a rogue tetherball.
Obviously, this wasn’t the “way” either. This wasn’t
my authentic way, at least.
I had a therapist tell me a long time ago that if my mother
had killed herself when I was young, as her behavior threatened she’d do, that
I would have probably gone down with that ship. I’d spent so much time and
energy attending to the needs and expectations of someone else, there wasn’t
room to explore or attend to my own.
Years later, I had another therapist tell me that this life
was my own, that I didn’t have to make
choices anymore based on whether I thought my dad would approve, or disapprove
and retaliate anymore. That this life was my own was such a novel concept, I’d
rejected it for years. That I could choose now to dye my hair, pierce my face,
be alone, reject the world, participate in it, smoke, not smoke, date, not date – is still a
concept I’m adjusting to, but the marination of this understanding and
awakening has been long underway.
The idea that I am a master of my own fate … well, it seems
just as rogue! That I can choose the kind of toilet paper I want; toothpaste I
like; friends I call. That I can choose how I want to dress in the world; what hobbies to pursue; … job to have … partner to love.
Fulfillment, is the end game, or the suspicion of the end
game. Am I happy in my path? Note, Molly: this is your path. There is no mother to care for, no father to
obey. What is it
you want in
life? And do you feel free and brave enough to pursue those desires?
Do you feel free and brave enough to apply for a new job? Do
you feel free and brave enough to wear clothing without stains? Do you feel
free and brave enough to accept that you want a partner whose clothes are also
without stains?
Do you feel free and brave enough to accept that you want a
good life? A job you respect? A partner
you admire?
Do I feel … stable enough, secure enough, self-supporting
and self-worthy enough to not only admit these “taboo” desires, but also to
express them to the world, through action?
Do I feel ready to tell you, world, that I want in? That I
want in on the goods, on the joy, on the self-respect, on the intellectual
stimulation, on the bed-rocking sex, on the critical, yet specious-seeming ease?
Well, I guess I’m telling you. I guess it’s been long enough
that the tetherball has hung limp and impotent, and it’s time to begin playing
again. I no longer am… tethered to ideas of being and living that aren’t my
own. The cord is cut, the apron strings untied. The life, really, is my own. 
And though today that may not mean dying my hair
green or copper, as I wish I’d been able to do a dozen years ago, it means I now know that I could. And that I would be awesome besides. 

determination · tenacity · vision

What Would Hitler Do?




I heard a friend ask this last week, trying to indicate how
we can choose to behave in the world—e.g. if we’re driving on the highway, and
someone cuts us off… well, What Would Hitler Do?
His point was that we can choose to align our negative thinking with that Master of Disaster and flip them off, seek vengeance, and our own kind of selfish order; or we can choose to go another
way with it, a way more forgiving, generous, loving.
Last weekend, I saw The Monuments Men, a movie about a group of Allies who endeavor to
save the art that Hitler and the Nazis were ransacking from all around Europe,
and intended to destroy if he was unsuccessful in his global domination.
He and his troops acquired and housed hundreds of thousands
of sculptures, paintings and artifacts—at least according to the film. All
diligently organized, categorized, catalogued, and stored.
And here’s what I’ve been thinking about, at the risk of
stepping into a hornet’s nest:
All human achievement rests on the ability to bring about
our will and our plans onto the earthly plane.
Let us for a moment, if you’re able, think about the
achievement of this one man: he rallied a country in the midst of an economic
collapse; he held one vision as the goal for his endeavors; he organized one of
the highest levels of precision of action over a grand piece of land and over a
series of years.
There is a saying about folks like me, that though we had
self-will galore, we had the utter inability to point it toward a worthy goal.
And, I think the same is true for Hitler.
The man was organized.
The man had
vision. The man
attempted to wrest out of the chaos of the world the kind of order he deemed
IF this same man had been guided by the principles of
forgiveness, generosity, and love… what on earth could he have accomplished?
If you can conceive of a Germany that pulled itself out of
economic collapse by organizing itself around principles of helping one
another, creating opportunity for all their people, celebrating inclusion of
people of all religions and sexual orientations and ancestral background…
If, instead of the destruction of people, Hitler’s same
brain and ambition were aimed toward the Jewish value of “tikkun olam” (to
repair the world)—What on earth could have happened??
I get that I may sound daft, offensive, and totally
inconsiderate of the crimes and atrocities that were in actuality wrought upon
the world.
But, I also think there’s a huge lesson to be missed if we
dismiss the fact that one man, one man who ate, and shat, and slept just like
all of the rest of us, changed the entire world. Here was a simple and flawed
human, just like us, who woke up every day with one goal in mind. It was a
horrid goal, I concur and admit and agree and support. But, each day, Hitler
decided that what he wanted to do in the world was the very best thing, and he
didn’t let ANYTHING deter him from that. He continued on, like a (rabid) dog
with a bone, and said, No, World, I’m going to do what I believe I was put on
this earth to do.
That kind of certainty, if aimed toward the “right”
objectives…? It boggles the mind.
Now, the important thing to remember, here, is the “right”
objectives. The proper use of the will, as they might say. I wonder if Hitler
had ever sat in meditation and tried to understand what the highest good was
for him and those around him, if he would have had a different goal. I wonder
if Hitler had tried to exercise, even ungracefully, the qualities of compassion
and vulnerability, if he would have sought a different aim. I also wonder,
if he had, if he would achieved anything at all.
But, then again, there are plenty of examples of compassion
leading the way toward change.
If instead, with his proficient, tenacious,
resourceful, determined, magnanimous personality, Hilter had had the heart of a Mother Theresa, a
Ghandi, or even a Jesus, I believe we would have a much different answer to the question,
What Would Hitler Do?