The Door Is Open

I once heard that if you keep an animal locked up in a cage for a long period of time and then one day you just open the door, many times the animal—although free to leave—will choose to stay within the confines of that cage.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I can relate to that. No one has ever literally locked me away in a cage. Though some may have wanted to… But I realize that from time to time, I have placed myself in one. I have allowed myself to feel imprisoned by my circumstances and although the door to my self-constructed “cage” stands WIDE open, all too often I have chosen to stay curled up inside.

Recently I was reminded that life is not merely a series of things that happen to us, as though we are endless victims of circumstance. But rather LIFE is whatever we choose to make it. It is something to grab on to while experiencing ALL the freedoms that truly belong to me…

Freedom to be happy in any and all conditions. Freedom to reach for the stars. Freedom to strive for everything I’ve ever wanted rather than merely accepting the view from between the black bars of a cage that I constructed all by myself.

Just in case I forget to be happy,
I want to remember that I have a choice. 

Just in case I forget what I’m saying,
I want to remember that I have a voice.
 

Just in case I forget where I’m going,
I want to remember that I hold the map.
 

Just in case I forget to walk freely,
I want to remember life isn’t a trap.

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Stormy Seas

“Calm seas don’t make good sailors.”

I read that once on a sign that I used to pass everyday on my way to work. I took a second to absorb it and then nodded my head in agreement that it is not the good times or the quiet times or the all-is-right-with-the-world times that make us who we are. It is the tough times that ultimately develop and define us.

That concept doesn’t exactly leave one with a “warm fuzzy” feeling. It kind of stinks to know that in order to be a better person, I am going to have to face difficulties and trials. But it is so true. And my not liking it won’t make it any LESS true.

So after I’m done lying down crying, kicking, screaming, yelling and feeling sorry for myself about how NOT FAIR (insert name of said trial or tribulation here) is… I usually pick myself up, dust myself off, and try to move forward while considering what valuable lesson can be gleaned from the unfortunate circumstance.

But sometimes it isn’t always that easy to just “learn our lesson” and move on. Some things are going to be SO big, so earth-shattering, so knock-you-on-your-ass devastating that it isn’t possible to simply alter our behavior, adjust our attitude or modify our thinking.

I have learned that sometimes we will have to sit in the dark while the storm rages all around us, knocking things down and forever changing the landscape of our lives. Sometimes we will have to cling to whatever vestiges of peace we can find when the sky overhead cracks open and the rain falls and thunder rattles our very foundation. Sometimes there isn’t going to be an easy way out. Sometimes we will just have to WAIT it out.

And that waiting can be the hardest part.

But I guess in those times—in those waiting periods—we can take heart that something IS happening! We are silently changing, growing and being refined. We become acquaintances of Sorrow. We have developed relationships with Patience, Perseverance and Stillness. So when the winds cease, the waters calm and the sun shines down on us again, no matter how long we remain in the center of that storm… we will be forever changed… for the better.

And when we open our eyes, we will find that we are not empty-handed. Rather, our arms have been filled with tools. Tools that will help us build a shelter for our friend when it is their turn to ride out the storm.