Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You Have Been Assigned This Mountain

There's been talk in my life lately about endings: the endings of time here in the mountains, the endings of living and working with people who have become friends; the changes in schedules, responsibilities, and dynamics when the people who work here (including myself) start leaving.

And I don't even want to think about it. But then again, I also do: want to reflect on it all, process it, remember it for the good that it was even though, like many experiences in this life, it's temporary.

I think about how crazy it is that when we take leaps of faith into the unknown, leaps of trust into what we think will be good for us- even when we don't know what's ahead- we don't leave the experience the same way we began.

We leave better. Wiser, stronger, changed. It's incredible, moving, emotional, annoying, painful, necessary for growth, and beautiful all at once. Such is life.

One thing I've learned continually from my experience in Colorado is never to let anyone tell you it can't be done. Whatever you want, or whatever is in your heart to do, do it. There's a way.

We're all fighting our own battles and learning in our own ways; all at different places in our lives and all with different hopes, dreams, and desires. And we also all have wants in our heart that other people may criticize, belittle, or dismiss because they have chosen not to believe in or act on theirs. 

And I've realized since being here that those were the voices I used to let dictate a lot of my own life. The ones that thought 'different' meant crazy or worthless. Or the ones that thought traveling by faith- beliving in myself, and my gifts, and something higher than myself- was silly. Those were the voices that planted the seed: 'don't even bother, don't even try.'
But what I'm learning is that if you look at life with an eternal perspective- a perspective which is bigger than just you and your very small existence, and the point you are at right now, where you can't see what's ahead- all endings are also beginnings. The voices that don't believe are the most dangerous ones to listen to if you're trying to grow. You should begin. You should step out. You should grow.

Because you will be carried through if you start- but you will be carried nowhere if you don't.

What happens to us at point A will effect us once we get to point B, which will effect us once we get to point C... it's up to us to learn, notice, and gain perspective at each point so that endings don't have to be these heavy, difficult, fatalistic experiences- maybe so much so that the looming reality of them keeps us from starting at all.

That would be the worst thing. Experiences of beauty and goodness stay with us forever: sure, their literal endings are very real, but when we focus on that eternal, bigger picture perspective, we are able to look at moments in time and see how everything we went through (good or bad) was a necessary stepping stone and an intentional experience- one that served us for good.

Right now, the idea of leaving Estes Park is sad. But it's a very real thing that seeds were planted here that I'm sure will bloom later: I don't know what they'll look like in my life, but it is inevitable that they will come up. I met people who changed me, I made decisions that have changed me, I grew in convictions that took root here and will stay with me. So while it's true that goodbye isn't usually pleasant, at least I can look ahead with hope and real knowledge that something else amazing is coming.

Which brings me to the point I was thinking about when I sat down and started writing today. I was thinking about all the other things in my life which once seemed like endings. All the things I've lost. All the things that have left, or seemed to fall apart, or seemed to leave me emptied and with nothing. Or even just the things like leaving a place, or a person, or people; not traumatic experiences, by any means, just, simply, endings.
We sometimes wonder how there could be goodness in those things while they're happening to us. But if only I knew what I know now: that eternal perspective, that creative vision, that can see beyond just 'me' and what's happening right now- that's the thing that gives us hope. Without it, we tend to become too detached from life to truly enjoy it because we're afraid of being disappointed, or of losing.

But it's only the all-in investment into the perspective of hope that makes any real happiness possible.

That sense of trust and faith is like the difference between looking at a blank canvas and finding it horribly overwhelming and daunting, and finding it full of possibility, beauty, play, and opportunity. 

Either way, you're looking at a blank canvas. Usually it takes time, but ultimately how you chose to perceive it is up to you.

And I have to be honest: I didn't always perceive it well. This experience, this ending, seems different to me than endings that happened when I was younger, less mature: hope brings in the possibility of greater things, and that means endings are emotional, sure, but not foundation-shattering. We learn we can go on, and we should.

I remember being at a point in my life where taking a leap of faith like moving alone to Colorado would have been out of the question in my mind. How would it go? Will I be good enough? Can I handle the change? Can I give up all I have and find security amidst unfamiliarity? What will other people think? 

I had a learned perspective of fear that came from a lot of things, but mostly from living for so long with the same thinking- and people that reinforced that thinking- that I actually, literally couldn't imagine hope.

Which seems crazy now- because now, all I do is imagine, and hope is something I have a lot of.
When we choose to step out in light and faith, something transformative happens to us. The reality of light and dark become clearer to us: where I was once maybe lost, in darkness; not sure of myself, my heart, my goals, my desires, I now see that setting out with a new perspective has taken me from point A, to B, to C- and will continue to take me beyond that.

That's the only perspective that makes the ending very well worth beginning. Otherwise we may end up living lives we're too afraid to move in, and that's not living at all.

So yes, here I am soon to be standing at an ending. And in that moment there will have to be an awareness that the emotional feeling of sadness when something is over is not necessarily the truth: hope that there is more ahead is actually the truth, whether I can see it at the time or not.

Sometimes we don't figure this out until we've hurt enough to learn it, but it's a good lesson to know. Eternity is as much a reality as tomorrow, and to understand that makes endings full of possibility and space for something new to begin.

Something even tells me I'll find myself here again, in the same place. But different. And that will be the beginning.

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