Living Out Loud

You Would Jump at Such an Opportunity, Wouldn’t You?

So, here’s the choice. We can stop here, now, and tread no further into the adventure of this lifetime, stunned into silence, by the storied fears within our heads, barren of exquisite feeling, satiated expression, and unqualified authenticity, inwardly aware, at least at some level, of what we have forsaken with our choosing, now and forever more, lost to this moment, this moment that only is. Or, we can walk, heads bowed low, into the mystery of life, willing to embrace life with all its ups and downs, its apparent triumphs and failures, knowing that only abundant head-on, breathless, living-out-loud can satisfy. We choose to be the expansive freedom that comes with our full consent to life, and enter into this adventure eyes wide open and raised to the heavens, our hearts laid bare upon the altar of YES.

Choice is such a loaded word, especially when you feel you have none, after all, if you felt you had a choice, you would jump at the opportunity for such a life, wouldn’t you? Is it possible that we really ‘choose’ lives of quiet desperation rather than choosing to step up to the plate and live life head-on, breathless, eloquently out loud?

What would it take to make such a choice? When I was imprisoned in my storied world of fear it didn’t seem like a choice. It felt more like a life-sentence—event, reaction, experience—event, reaction, experience—a giant mesmerizing revolving door. I couldn’t seem to break free of the drama, the constant dread of the next shoe to drop. I didn’t even know enough to know that I was caught in the door, going round and round. I just thought that this merry-go-round was life. If asked, I would have told you, “I would never have chosen this!”

Comfort kept me bottled up in my old patterns. The ‘known’ is a trickster. It sneakily makes you believe that life could always be much worse. The pasture next door may be greener but it’s full of weeds and snakes and holes. The trickster says, ‘Stay here where it is familiar, where you know the territory and what to expect”. Comfort is a guardian of fear. If I wasn’t so enamored of security and comfort I would have been more willing to chance living life fully out loud.

Was I choosing? As much as the old me would hate to admit it, yes, I was. I was choosing within a framework of fear and had no idea it was in control. My choice was unconscious, but it was choice.

As I write this, I am trying to recall the turning point, that moment in time when life changed, when that something clicked into place and I was no longer willing to maintain my personal status quo, that moment when I chose the road less traveled, and began to walk down the path to freedom. My moment of truth came when I chose to stand up against heartless treatment at work, offering my resignation, unwilling to continue with the program as it stood. The choice was conscious, although I didn’t fully understand what making it meant. Choosing to live out loud becomes easier after the first excursion and victim-hood wears much heavier than before.

This life lived out loud is what we all want, what we dream of, and beat ourselves unmercifully for not choosing. We know we are choosing lives of quiet desperation. We know it. As much as we try, we can’t hide from ourselves for long. Every time we get that feeling in our gut that says, ‘you’re doing it again’, we know we are the ones that let ourselves down. At a deep level, I knew that even before I knew I was caught in the revolving door.

My life as drama seems like a life-time ago, and yet, just yesterday, I found myself tense and insensitive—tied up in knots, although much smaller knots, knots none-the-less. The knots didn’t last. As soon as I stopped long enough to see what was happening, they dissolved with my seeing and acceptance. Still, they had found a way into the calm, wormed their way into awareness, and attempted to convince me of their worth, but again, I chose. I chose to live a life head-on, breathless, and on the edge of God’s envelope. I can’t do that with shards of fear hanging from my ankles. Sometimes I have to give it a little kick and shake it loose, like a puppy shaking off its bath, wiggling from the top of its head to the tip of its floppy tail. We can shake like that little dog and dislodge the fear that has us trapped within its spell. All we have to do is choose and let the shaking begin.

“What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliness, and say, ‘This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!’ Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer,’Never have I heard anything more divine’?” Friedrich Nietzsche (German classical scholar, philosopher, and critic of culture, 1844-1900)