I’m writing a novel about a young Marine amputee coming back after war in Iraq to a sleepy town in Texas and I’ve had the privilege of interviewing several vets – a Navy Seal, two Navy pilots, two Marines and two Army vets. I’ve immersed myself in research about amputees, Iraq, military deployment, PTSD and a host of other issues relating to the book. A few things I’ve learned resonated sharply as Independence Day came and went so this week I’m combining a Get Out post encouraging us to have more adventure with a message for us to Get Real about what we’re doing with the freedom that we’re given in this country.
First, I hope you got out and celebrated this year, whether locally or on vacation. The 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I love parades, fireworks, parties and all the feel-good Americana that comes with our privilege of being born in an amazing country. While my kids no longer let me dress them in cute USA pride attire, I still get in the spirit and will go celebrate whether or not the whole family cares to join. (Just wait – those of you who don’t have teens yet!) I was thankful all five of us did celebrate that evening together.
Second, I’d like us to ponder how we may be taking our freedom for granted. How we may be holding back and living in the shell of our own making instead of truly enjoying our country and our lives. Travel, adventure, unleashing our natural gifts onto the world. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art) says the more we go from our lower level to a higher level, the more Resistance we feel. When the vets I interviewed came back to America, they saw a lot of apathy when they looked around. They saw a lot of “busy” and not a lot of traction. They saw people who didn’t have drive or initiative or goals. Sad, huh?
Let’s not take our freedoms for granted. Don’t let Resistance get the best of you. I’ll admit I’ve encountered Resistance a LOT this year. The more I’ve tried to transform, the more my ego wanted to get in the way and tell me to leave well enough alone, to not topple the apple cart, to keep the status quo and for SURE don’t start a new project like writing a novel I know nothing about (war and from a MALE perspective) and I certainly have no business or time to write a book about returning to our wild, unique nature when there are already plenty of spiritual teachers out there that could surely say it better than me. That’s how Resistance rears it’s self-righteous head. It will tell you that you are nothing. That you should stay in your job, your circle, your hometown. That you shouldn’t venture out because BAD things could happen. If I’d told too many people I was going solo camping, I’m sure more would’ve tried to talk me out of that, too, which would’ve been too bad because it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Truth.
You have to open up and let yourself be vulnerable. That’s where courage and bravery come in – after you’re already on the journey NOT before. You take the leap. Watch Brene Brown’s fabulous TED Talk for more on vulnerability.
A quote I love from Brown:
“I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability my making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy and creativity to name a few.”
So, what shall we do with our freedom and adventure next?
A few pics from my holiday and excerpts from my two works in progress. Next week I’ll be writing to you from Kansas City with a thousand dancers!
Excerpt from work in progress novel: Word count so far: 37,800 out of 80,000. Jake Ambrose (22) Point of View:
Grams said it was a miracle I hadn’t been burned to a crisp.
Said it was an angel who put that door over my thin little body.
No one wanted to give my meth-coooking mom credit for my survival, but I don’t think that’s fair. Even though she shouldn’t have been doing what she was doing, she did respond the way a mom should when she saw her kid in danger.
Besides, it was me who brought that flame to the fire.
I could feel Misery’s presence, lurking in the shadows behind the trees. I dared not look to see her pale face and red lipsticked smirk, blaming me for what happened. Because she was right. Maybe she was always right. Maybe it was always my fault – the whole lot of it.
Excerpt from work in progress non-fiction essay book: Word count 10,000 of 75,000.
“This book is about reclaiming our unique nature – our wild side – with our heart as a compass. To get there we’re going to look to nature and our brave hearts beating alongside the river, up the mountains, fingertips over the fields, feet on the red earth, eyes to the skies.
We’re going to get OUTSIDE in nature get to what’s going on INSIDE.
We hear that happiness comes from within but everything we are told could make us happy by advertising and society is conditional. Buy THIS and you’ll be the cool kid. Live HERE and you’ll be respected. Get THIS degree and you’ll be on your way to the corner office. (Because it’s corner or bust, right?) Up, up and away?
We are boxed in, reshaped, told what to think, what to believe, who to love, what fits in, what makes you weird, what makes you special. And that may have nothing to do with who you uniquely are. Being true to you means taking a stand and letting your soul – not society – be your guide.
Nature is full of secret messages waiting to be discovered.