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February 22, 2014

Rethinking the Exit Strategy. ~ Jillian Locke

Photo: Hugo Kintzler

I’ve Been Crying a lot Lately.

Sudden bursts, quick sobs.

Explosions escaping from my chest, springing from my heart and leaking from my eyes.

They creep and release, shocking me back into the moment. I look at myself in the mirror and see my eyes burn—the blues become more blue, the greens grow and take their rightful spots. These windows glisten and see beyond the milky lens; a layer that’s quickly shedding as it realizes it no longer serves a purpose.

Its reason for protection is gone. These windows have outgrown the blinds.

If you try to view yourself through the lenses that others offer you, all you will see are distortions; your own light and beauty will become blurred, awkward, and ugly. Your sense of inner beauty has to remain a very private thing.” John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Sunshine wants to come in. Light wants to make a new home in the shadowy tracks of this once streaked glass.

These sudden attacks don’t feel bad. They actually feel good. Insanely enough, I find myself smiling after the quick sobs subside…after I catch my breath again.

I’m crying out of joy. It’s fucking crazy, but I’m crying because I’m happy. A lot.

I feel like there’s not a lot that surprises me anymore, and then I go and start weeping out of joy. Maybe it’s one of those self-fulfilling instances—I love surprises. I want to feel surprised, all the time. I love people who surprise me with things—secret trips, little tokens that scream, “Hey, this reminded me of you because I know you.” People who care enough to want to see that delight pouring from my eyes because I know they’ve seen me, recognized me.

“Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.” John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Maybe I’m finding the friend within myself. Maybe I’m learning to surprise myself rather than rely on other people to do it for me—a direct route to disappointment.

This year has been full of surprises, and I know why: I’ve come to appreciate the smallest, most seemingly basic things—friendship, family, love, emotional support and connection. I’ve started giving myself over to these things in a way that I never did before. And everything that comes after that has started to become a complete—and completely welcome—surprise.

Maybe that’s happening because I’ve stopped being so guarded.

Well, with some people. Actually, with a lot more people than I used to. But those relationships that are deepening now are really deepening, to a family level. To a level I’ve never trusted before, but do now.

And I started to trust because I needed to. It’s become essential to living, to moving from (barely) surviving to thriving. To inching, step by shaking step, into a more fulfilling, more whole, more balanced and all around loving life. The life I’ve always wanted but never thought was possible.

The life that’s been pounding on the barricaded doors of my bleeding fucking heart.

But the bleeding seems to be coagulating. The steady outpour of energy and life force seems to be slowing down, calming. A sort of consolidation seems to be happening, a convalescence. The once raging inner streams that feverishly sought an out appear to be rethinking their exit strategy.

Maybe they’ve been too distracted with floods of memories; turbulent currents and undertows always tossing them around, redirecting them from what they thought was the only way out, the only choice. The resounding hymnals bouncing off the ribbed pink corridors are changing; the haunting melody is no longer leading this steady stream of stars and scars to the same place.

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.” John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

This is the beginning of something new. The tides, they are a’ changin’. The moon is shifting and with it, the rhythm of this invisible seascape. The fog is clearing and the horizon is visible, finally. Which means there’s hope beyond it—there’s land and mountains and peaks and valleys and summits and new terrain calling, and for the first time, a path has revealed itself.

Someone recently asked me what love was to me. I closed my eyes and the first thing I saw was mountains bathed in the most vibrant, brilliant, indescribable colors of the most gigantic sunset. These hues were rippling out in every direction, reaching and expanding over the entire landscape.

I started crying, right away. Once again, it just crept up on me, pushing its way from my chest and with a gust and a sigh, through my trembling lips. Even as I write this, a swell of warmth is rising in my belly, an indicator that I have come to accept as my go button.

When all is warm and right in my stomach, I know it’s safe to proceed—that this is the way.

I thought more about what love is. Words like “freedom” and “adventure” and “open road” came to mind. Winding ribbons of concrete climbing in altitude, dipping and swerving, leading to places I’ve yearned for in dreams I can’t remember. Dreams I had given up on.

Dreams suffocated by the old story.

The old story. That ball and chain we carry around because we don’t know any better. We think we’re protecting ourselves, shielding ourselves from the unknown by toting around the comforts and familiarity of our past, no matter how heavily it’s weighing us down and keeping us from living.

Keeping us from living. Now that’s an epiphany. I’ve been realizing lately that the simplest truths have proven to be the most profound.

The only thing keeping us from living is ourselves; not our past, not our present circumstances, not our family, friends, careers or financial situations. These are all manifestations of the story that we’ve been white-knuckling, too fearful to release even though we’re collapsing under the exhaustion of misery and discontent.

We need a new story to replace the old one. We can literally write this new story into life—we can orchestrate new directions of fresh winds into the tale of our lives. Nothing is constant or forever—absolutely nothing. Every moment changes with the creation of our thoughts and the beats of our hearts, which means every second brings the possibility of something new. Something better.

Something we may have given up on, even though we weren’t ready to yet. Something that’s been calling to be released and given life.

Our soul song.

Within our thoughts and our breath, anything is possible.

Without a new story, the old story holds space. Some spaces are made to be cleared and remain cleared, but some actually do need to be filled with something.

This is one of those spaces.

Once the clutter is cleared and this new space is cleansed, what will you fill it with? What music will float from the open windows?

What new doors will appear, waiting for you to reach out and open them?

“All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities…Possibility is the secret heart of time.”  John O’DonohueAnam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Hugo Kintzler

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Jillian Locke  |  Contribution: 5,720